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THE BARONET'S BRIDE; 



OR. 



A WOMAN'S VENGEANCE. 






BT 



MA V A GNES FLEMING. 



CHICAGO: 
M. A. DONOHUE & Co. 



i 



PS 



DAVIS & ELVEESON, 
3»«*. tWU^e or tfte Clerfc o/ ».c District Court of the United State,. in<mdjm, 
th» Eastern District of Penimlvwnia. 



fi 






If FtB9 «'<- ^^, 



^ 



THE BARONET'S BRIDE. 



in onAfw 



CHAPTER I. 

THE baronet's BRIDE. 

'* And there is danger of death — for mother and child?'* 

** Well, no. Sir Jasper —no, sir; no certain danger, you 
know; but in these protracted cases" — Dr. Parker God- 
ifoy paused, and coughed behind his hand — *' it can do no 
itiarm, Sir Jasper, for the clergyman to be here. He may 
loot be needed — let us hope he will not be — but your good 
ilady is very weak — very weak, I am sorry to say. Sir Jas- 
iper Kingsland." 

" 1 will send for the clergyman," Sir Jasper Kingsland 
said, not looking at the grave little London doctor. '* Do 
your best, as I know you will. Doctor Godroy, and for 
God's sake let me know the worst or best as soon as may 
V)e. This torture of suspense is horrible." 

His voice was sharp and harsh with inward pain. Dr. 
X'arker Godroy looked sympathetically at him through his 
gold-bowed spectacles. 

" 1 will do my best. Sir Jasper," he said, gravely. 
** The result is in the hands of the Great Dispenser of life 
and death. Send for the clergyman, and wait and hope." 

He quitted the library as he spoke. Sir Jasper Kings- 
land seized the bell and rang a shrill peal. 

'* Ride to the village — ride for your life!" he said, im- 
peratively, to the servant who answered, ** and fetch the 
Keverend Gyrus Green here at once." 

The man bowed and departed, and Sir Jasper Kings- 
land, Baronet, of Kingsland Court, was alone — alone in 
the gloomy grandeur of the vast library; alone with las 
thoughts and the wailing midnight storm. 

For it was midnight. A clock high up in an ancient 
turret pealed noisily forth the weird hour when " chorch- 






THE baronet's BRIDE. 



il 



I] 



yards yawn and graves give up their dead/' and an army 
of rroks, disturbed in their "bounty sleep'' by thedis- 
cordant noise, cawed harshly in reply. A little toy time- 
piece of biiiil on the stone iiiantej chimed mnsically its 
story of the hour, and Sir Jasper Kingsland lifted his 
gloomy eyes for a moment at the sound, lie was leaning 
against the old, quaintly carved chimney-piece, looking at 
tJie smoldering fire, his dark face full of unutterable trouble 
and pain. A tall, spare, middle-aged man, handsome 
once— handsome still, some people said — with iron-gray 
hair and a proud, patrician face. 

" Twelve," his dry lips whispered to themselves — " mid- 
night, and for three hours I have endured this maddening 
agony of suspense! Another day is given to the world, 
find before its close all I love best may be cold and stark 
in death! Oh, my God! have mercy, and spare her!" 

He lifted his clasped hands in passionate appeal. There 
^as a picture opposite — a gem of Raphael's — the Man of 
Sorrows fainting under the weight of the cross, and the 
fire's shine playing upon it seemed to light the pallid feat- 
ures with a derisive smile. 

" The mercy you showed to others, the same shall be 
{shown to you. Tiger heart, you were merciless in the days 
g;one by. Let your black, bad heart break, as you have 
broken others!" 

No voice had sounded, yet he was answered. Conscience 
Had spoken in trumpet-tones, and with a hollow groan the 
i)aronet turned away and began pacing up and down. 

It was a large and spacious apartment, this library of 
Kingsland Court, dimly lighted now by the flickering 
wood-fire and the mellow glow of a branch of wax-lights. 
Huge book-cases filled to overflowing lined the four walls, 
and pictures precious as their weight in rubies looked 
duskily down from their heavy frames. Busts and bronzes 
stood on brackets and surmounted doors; a thick, rich car- 
pet of moss-green, sprinkled with oak leaves and acorns, 
muffled the tread; voluminous draperies of dark green 
shrouded the tall, narrow windows. The massive chairs 
and tables, fifty years old at least, were spindle-legged and 
rich in carving, upholstered in green velvet and quaintly 
embroidered by hands moldered to dust long ago, Every- 
-thing was old and grand, and full of storied interest And 
there, on the wall, was ^he crest of the house — the uplifted 



THE baronet's BKIDE. 



hand grasping a dagger — and the motto, in old Norman 
French, " Strike once, and strike well.*' 

Sir Jasper Kingsland, the lust of a long lino that traced 
their ancestry far back beyond the days of the baronet- 
making king, James the First, stood alone to-night, and 
took note of all these things, with a dreary sort of wonder 
that they could afford him no help and no comfort in his 
hour of sui^remest need. 

It is a very line thing to be a baronet — a Kiiigsland of 
Kingsland, with fifteen thousand a year, and the tinest old 
house in the county; but if Death will stalk grimly over 
your threshold and snatch away the life you love iiior« 
than your own, then oven that glory is not omniscient. 
For this wintery midnight, while Sir Jasper Kingslanc^ 
walks moodily up and down — uj) and down — Lady King* 
land, in the chamber above, lies ill unto death. 

An hour passes — the clock in the turret and the buhl, 
toy on the stone mantel toll solemnly one. The embers 
drop monotonously through the grate — a dog bays deeply 
somewhere in the quadrangle below — the wailing wind o* 
coming morning sighs lamentingly through the tossing 
copper-beeches, and the roar of the surf afar off come«» 
ever and anon like distant thunder. The house is silen*. 
as the tomb — so horribly silent that the cold drops star*', 
out on the face of the tortured man. Who knows? Death 
has been on the threshold of that upper chamber all nights 
waiting for his prey. This awful hush may be the paean 
that proclaim,, that he is master! 

A tap at the door. The baronet paused in his stride ami 
turned his blood-shot eyes that way. His very voice was 
hollow and unnatural as he said: 

** Come in." 

A servant entered — the same who had gone his errand. 

*' The Reverend Cyrus Green is here, sir. Shall 1 shoj^^ 
him up?" 

" Yes — no — I can not see him. Show him into thft 
drawing-room until he is needed." 

" He will not be needed," said a voice at his elbow, and 
Doctor Parker Godroy came briskly forward. " My dea" 
Sir Jasper, allow me to congratulate you! All is well, 
thank Heaven, and — it is a son!" 

Sir Jasper Kingsland sunk into a seat^ thrilling horn 






8 



THE BAllONKl'S DUIDE. 



head to foot, turning sick and faint in the suddon rovulsiou 
from despair to hope. 

" Saved ?" he said, in a gasping whisper. *' Both?" 

*' Both, my dear Sir Jasper!" the doctor responded, 
cordially. " Your good lady is very much prostrated — ex- 
hausted—but that was to be looked for, you know; and 
the baby— ah! the finest boy 1 have had the pleasure of 
presenting to an admiring world within ten years. Come 
and see them!" 

*' May 1?" the baronet cried, starting to his feet. 

" Certainly, my dear Sir Jasper — most certainly. There 
is nothing in the world to hinder — only be a little cautious, 
you know. Our good lady mustn't be excited the least in 
life. She must be kept composed and quiet, and left to 
sleep; and you will just take one peep and go. We won't 
need the Reverend Cyrus this bout." 

He led the way from the library, rubbing his hands a« 
your brisk little physicians do, up a grand stair-way where 
you might have driven a coach and four, and into a lofty 
and most magnificently furnished bed-chamber. 

The sick lady lay in a bed in the center of the room — a 
lofty, four-posted affair, carved and quaint and old as the 
hills, and covered and draped with white. But whiter than 
the draperies — whiter than the winter snow — her face 
looked up from the pillows, awfully corpse-like in its 
deathly pallor. The eyes were closed; the small, bloodless 
hands lay loose on the counterpane. In her shroud and 
winding-sheet she would never look more ghastly than 
that. 

*' Quiet, now — quiet," the doctor whispered, warningiy. 
'* Excite her, and I won^t be answerable for the result." 

Sir Jasper Kingsland replied with a rapid gesture, and 
walked forward to the bed. His own face was perfectly 
colorless, and his lips were twitching with intense sup- 
pressed feeling. He bent above the still form. 

" Olivia," he said, " my darling, my darling!" 

The heavy eyelids fluttered and lifted, and a pair of 
haggard, dark eyes gazed up at him. A wan smile parted 
those pallid lips. 

" Dear Jasper! I knew you would come. Have yoi* 
seen the baby? It is a boy. " 

*' My own, I have thought only of you. My poor, pala 
wife, how awfully death-like you lookl" 



THE BARONET'S BRTDl. 



•• But I am not going to die— Doctor Godroy aays so,** 
wniling gontly. '* Anil now you must go, for I can not 



fi 



tttlk. Only kiss me first, and look at the baby.' 

Her voice was the merest whisper, lie pressed his Idpa 
passionately to the white face and rose up. Nurse and 
baby sat in state by the fire, and a slender gi^l of fifteen 
years knelt beside them, and gazed in a sort oi rapture at 
the infant prodigy. 

'• Look, papa — look! The loveliest little thing, and 
nurse says the very picture of you!" 

The young girl — Miss Mildred Kingsland, and until to- 
night the baronet's only child — pulled away a profusion of 
Jlannel and displayed triumphantly a little red, wrinkled 
face. Not very lovely, certainly; but Sir Jasper Kings- 
land's eyes lighted with pride and joy as he looked, tor 
was it not a boy? Had he not at last, after weary, weary 
waiting, the desire of his heart — a son to inherit the estate 
and perpetuate the ancient name? 

*' It IS so sweet, papa!*' Miss Mildred whispered, her 
finiall, rather sickly face quite radiant; ** and its eyes are 
the image of yours. He's asleep now, you know, and you 
can't see them. And look at the dear, darling little hands 
and fingers and feet, and the speck of a nose and the dot 
of a mouth! Oh, papa! isn't it splendid to have a baby 
in the house?" 

" Very splendid," said papa, relaxing into a smile. ** A 
fine little lellow, nurse! There, cover him up again and 
let him sleep. We must take extra care oi the heir of 
Kingsland Court. And, Mildred, child, you should be in 
bed. One o'clock is no hour for little girls to be out of 
their nests." 

*' Oh, papa!" reproachfully; "as if I could sleep and 
not see the baby!" 

" Well, you have seen it, and now run away to your 
room. Mamma and baby both want to sleep, and norae 
doesn't need you, I am sure. " 

*' That I don't," said nurse, " nor the doctor, either. 
So run away. Miss Milly, and go to sleep yourself. The 
baby will be here, all safe for you, in the morning." 

The little girl — a flaxen-haired, pretty-featur^ child-^ 
kissed the baby, kissed papa, and dutifully departed. Sir 
Jasper followed her out of the room, down the stairs, and 
^ttck into the library, with the face of a man who has jost 



\0 



THE baronet's TiniDE. 



l\ 



\j 



t,een reprioved from sndtlon death. As he ro-ontered tho 
library, lio piiused and .sturtod a stop ba(!k, f,ardnf? lixodly 
at one of tlio windows. Tho heavy curtain had been 
partially drawn back, and a wlilto, Hpoctral face was glued 
to the ^dasa, glarin'j; in. 

'* Who have we hero?" said tho baronet to himsolf; 
" tliat face can belong to no one in the house." 

Ho walkt'd straight to the window — the face novor 
moved. Ho could see tho snow falling noiselessly, rapidly 
— the ground covered, the spectral face set in a wintcsry 
frame of white ilakes. A hand was raised and tapped on 
the glass. A voice outside spoko: 

" For Heaven's sake, open and lot mo in, before I per- 
ish in this bitter storm. ^' 

Sir .Jasper Kingsland opened tho window and Hung it 
wide. A rush of bitter wind, a shower of snow whirled in 
his face. 

" Enter! whoever you are," ho said. " No one shall 
ask in vain at Kingsland, this happy nij^ht.*' 

He stepped back, and, all covered with snow, the mid- 
night intruder entered and stood before him. And Sir 
Ja9[)er Kingsland saw tho strangest-looking creature he 
had ever beheld in the whole course of his life. 



CHAPTER II. 

ACHMET THE ASTROLOGER. 

An old man, yet tall and upright, wearing a trailing 
fjfoak of dull black, long gray hair flowing ovor the shoul- 
ders, and tight to the scalp a skull-cap of black velvet. 
A patriarchal beard, abundant and silver-white, streamed 
down his breast, and out of a dull, white face, seamed and 
wrinkled, looked a pair of eyes piercing and black. 

Sir Jasper took a step backward, and regarded this 
singular apparition in undisguised wonder. Tho old man 
folded his arms across his bosom and made him a profound 
Oriental salaam. 

*' The Lord of Kingsland gazes in amaze at the u)i in- 
vited midnight stranger. And yet I think destiny has 
gent me hither." 

" Who are you?" the baronet demanded. " What 
jugglery is this? Are you dressed for an Eastern dervish 
m a melodrama, and have you come here to play a prac- 



n 



c* 



THE BATIONET'S BRIDE. 



u 



ti(.'al joko? I am afraid T can not appreciate tho humo*? 
of tliu iniiHfiuorailo. Wlio am yoii?" HLonily. 

Tlio old man folded Ids arms aguiii, and onco more boat 
sorvihdy lev;. 

*' Ml'U call mo Achmot tho Astrolofj^or.'* 



(( 



An 



urftroiogor.'' 



Jfiirnpli! your bhick 



art, it seoniB, 
" rotor ted 



could not j)r()tLH!t you from a .January storm, 
Sir Jasper, with a cynical snoor. " Jitit como m — coma 
in. Astrologer or demon, or whatever you are, you look 
too old a nnm to bo abroad such a night, wlien wo would 
not turn an enemy's dog from tho house. The doors oii 
Kingaland are never closed to tho tired wayfarer, and oJ: 
all nights in tho ^ear they should not bo closed to-night/" 

'* When an heir is born to an ancient name and a prince-* 
]y inheritance, you spoak rightly, iny Lord of Kingsland.'' 

Sir Jasper was closing the window; but at the gentl** 
murmured words ho facsed sharply round. 

*' How say you? What do you know of the events ofc 
this night. Sir Astrologer?'* 

•' Much, Sir Jasper Kingsland, and for the very reasort 
you deride — because 1 am an astrologer. I read the stars* 
and I lift tho veil of the future, and, lol I behold your lif*^ 
years before you have lived it!" 

Sir Jasper Kingsland laughed a cynical, unbelieving 
laugh. 

" You jeer at mo, you scoff at my words," murmured th« 
old man, in soft, steady tones, *' and yet there was no one 
to toll me on my way here that a sou and heir had been 
born to tho house of Kingsland within the past hour. " 

Ho lifted his arm and pointed to the clock, his full, 
dark eyes fixed in a powerful gaze upon the baronet's 
changing face. There was majesty in his mien, a lofty 
grace in tho gesture, a thrilling sweetness in his voice, that 
indescribably fascinated the listener. 

" You deride the power 1 profess, yet every day yon 
quote your English poet, and believe him when he says: 
* There are more things in heaven and earth than aro 
dreamed of in your philosophy.' But I am accustomed to 
derision, and it does not offend me. Let me prove my 
power, so that even the most resolute skeptic dare doub^ 
no longer. Judge of my skill to read the future by mf 
ability in reading the past. I have come here — 1 hav« 
taken a long journey to look into the future of your new 



II 



'I 



18 



THE BARONET S BRIDE. 



born son. Before I begin, let me look into the past of hia 
father. Sir Jasper Kincjsland, let n»e read your palm." 

But Sir Jasper drew back, his pale, patrician face eold 
ond set in proud surprise. 

" You hare taken a long journey to look into the future 
©f my son? Pray, my good astrologer, what is my son to 
you?" 

** That is my secret. Sir Jasper, and my secrets 1 keep. 
Come, hold forth your hand, and test my skill." 

'* Why should I? Even if you can bring before me my 
past life, of what use will it be, since I must know all bet- 
ter than you?" 

*' My power to read the past may prove my power ,0 
read the future." 

" Nay, you may easily know the past, without magic»> 
skill. Many thanks, my venerable friend, but I will no* 
put your necromancy to the test. " 

The astrologer folded his arms, and looked the haughty 
baronet straight in the eyes until he quailed. 

"Is Sir Jasper Kingsland afraid?" he said, slowly 
*' Surely not, for verily he comes of a daring race. And 
yel it seems like it." 

The baronet made a stride forward, with eyes that blazed 
suddenly like flames. 

"By Heaven! if a younger man had spoken thoso 
words I would have hurled him by the throat from yonder 
window. Be careful of your words, old man, else even 
your hoary hairs may fail to save you." 

Once more the astrologer bent servilely. 

" 1 cry your mercy, my haughty Lord of Kingsland. 
It shall be as you say. I will depart as I came. 1 will 
not serve you nor your new-born son, since you refuse to 
be served. I will depart at once. I fear no earthly storm. 
Good-night, Sir Jasper Kingsland. Look to the heir of 
your house yourself. "When ' angels unaware ' visit you 
again, treat them better than you have treated me. " 

With a gesture indescribably grand and kingly, the sil- 
ver-haired old man turned to go, folding his long cloak 
about him. But the voice of the baronet called him bacL 

" Stay," he said. " You speak of serving my son^ 
What danger threatens hi's infant life that you can avert?*' 

" I know of none. I have not cast the horoscope yet.'* 
Then you wish to d© so?'" 



1 



" rin 



V> 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



IJ^ 



** With your good permission. I have taken a long and 
toilsome journey for that very purpose. Sir Jasper Kings- 
land.^' 

" Then you shall," the baronet cried, yielding to a swift 
impulse — '* you shall cast his horoscope. If it can avert 
no evil, it can, at least, cause none. But, first, there is 
no action without its ruling motive. What are me or 
mine to you, to make you take a long and toilsome jour* 
ney on our account?^' 

The old man paused, drawn up to his fullest height, im" 
posing as a new King Lear, his deep, dark eyes glowing 
with inward fire. 

** 1 will tell you," he said, in a deep voice. " Yeari* 
ago. Sir Jasper, when you were a young man, you did as- 
honor and a service to one 1 dearly love; that I have nevei' 
forgotten and never will forget! You have ceased to re 
member it years ago, no doubt; but ] never have, nor eve>' 
will until my dying day." 

The baronet stared. 

*'A service! an honor! What could it have been? X 
recollect nothing of it." 

*' I expected as much; but my memory is a good one 
It is stamped on my heart forever. Great men like Si/* 
Jasper Kingsland, grandees of the land, forget these littlf 
things rendered to the scum and offal, but the scum ancfi 
offal cherish them eternally. I owe you a long debt. Sir* 
Jasper, and I will pay it to the uttermost farthing, so helt- 
me God!" 

His black eyes blazed, his low voice rose, his arm up 
lifted fiercely for an instant in dire meuace. Then, quick 
as lightning flashes, all was transformed. The eyes were 
bent upon the carpet, the arms folded, the voice sunk, 
•of I and servile. 

*' Forgive me!" he murmured. "In my gratitude I 
forget myself. But you have my motive in coming here 
— the desire to repay you; to look into the future of your 
son; to see the evils that may threaten his youth and man- 
hood, and to place you on your guard against them. 
* Forewarned is forearmed,' you know. Do not doubt mj 
power. In far-off Oriental land?, under the golden star? 
of Syria, I learned the lore of the wise men of the East. J 
learned to read the stars as you Englishmen read youi 



14 



THE BARONET S BRIDE. 



I! 



printed books. Believe and trust, and let me cast tbo 
horoscope of your sou.'' 

'* First let me test your vaunted power. Show me my 
past before you show me ..ij son's future.'* 

He held forth his hand with a cynical smile. The old 
man took it gravely. 

" As you will. Past and future are alike to me — savi 
that the past is easier to read. Ah! a palm seamed au-i 
crossed and marked with troubled lines. Forty years havo 



not gone and left no trace behind — " 
" Forty years!" interrupted Sir Js 



asper, with sneering 
emphasis!^ "" Pray do not bungle in the very beginning. 

" 1 bungle not," answered Achmet, sternly. " Forty 
years ago, on the third of next month, you, Jasper South- 
down Kingsland, were born beneath this very roof, " 

The baronet looked considerably surprised at this verv 
minute statement. 

'* Right!" he said. " You know my age. But go on.'' 

*' Your boyhood you passed here — quiet, eventless year« 
— with a commonplace mother and a dull, proud father 
At ten, your mother went to her grave. At twelve, th** 
late Sir Noel followed her. At thirteen, you, a lonelv 
orphan, were removed from this house to London in the 
charge of a guardian that you hated. Am 1 not right?" 

" You are. Pray go on." 

*' At fourteen, you went to Rugby to school. From tha^""- 
time until you attained your majority your life pussed in 
public schools and universities, harmlessly and monotonous 
ly enough. At twenty-one, you left Cambridge, anf* 
started to make the grand tour. Your life just then gav* 
the promise of bright and brilliant thiiigs. You wer« 
tolerably clever; you were young and handsome, and heir 
to a noble inheritance. Your life was to be the life of a 
great and good man — a benefactor of the human race. 
Your memory was to be a magnificent memento for a whole 
world to honor. Your dreams wore wild and vague, and 
sublimely impracticable, and ended in — nothing." 

Sir Jcisper K" .gsland listened and stared like a man in 
a dream, his skepticism fading away like mist before sun 
rise. Achmet the Astrologer continued to read the palpi 
with a fixed, stony face. 

" And now the lines are crossed, and the trouble begins. 



(( 



THE BARON^ET's BRIDE. 



1ft 



A.8 usual, a woman is at the bottom of it Sir Jasper 
Kingslaiid is in love." 

There was a pause. The baronet winced a little, and 
the astrologer bent lower over the palra. 

*' It is in Spain/* he continued, in the dreamy, far-ofiE 
tone of a man who sees a vision— " glowing, gorgeous 
Spain — and she is one of its loveliest children. The 
oranges and pomogranates scent the burning air, the vine' 
yards glow in the tropic sun, and golden summer forever 
reigns. l>ut the glowing southern sun is not more brill- 
iant than the Spanish gypsy's hashing black eyes, nor the 
pomegranate blossoms half so ripe and red as her cheeks. 
Her step is light us the step of an antelope, her voice sweet 
MS the harps of heaven. She is Zenith, the Zingara, and 
you love her!" 

*' In the fiend's name!** Sir Jasper Kingsland cried, 
•• what jugglery is this?'* 

He was ashen white, and his steady voice shook. Calmly 
the astrologer repossessed himself of the baronet*s hand. 

*' One moment more, my Lord of Kingsland,** ho said, 
"' and I have done. Let me see how your love-dream ends. 
Ah! the old, old story. Surely 1 might have known. She 
»s beautiful as the angels above, and as innocent, and she 
loves you with a mad abandon that is worse than idolatry — 
*isonly women ever love. And you? You are grand and 
uoble, a milor Inglesc, and you take her love — her crazy 
vvorship — as a demi-god might, with uplifted grace, as 
four birthright; and she is your pretty toy of an hour. 
And then, careless and happy, you are gone. Sunny 
Spain, with its olives and its vineyards, its pomegranates 
and its Zenith the Gitana, is left far behind, and you are 
roaming, happy ar "! free, through La Belie F»'ance. And 
lo! Zenith the forsaken lies prone on the ground, and 
tears out her hair by the handful, and goes stark mad for 
the day-god she has lost. There, Sir Jasper Kingsland! 
the record is a black one. I wish to read no more.** 

lie flung the baronet's hand away, and once more his 
eyes glowed like the orbs of a demon. But Sir Jasper 
Kingsland, pale as a dead man, saw it not. 

" Are you man or devil?'* he said, in an awe-struck 
tone. " No living mortal knoTVs what yon have told me 
this night, *' 



'% 



id 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



Hi 



Achmet the Astrologer smiled — a dire, dark smile. His 
,<jyes shone upon the speaker full of deadliest menace. 

'* Man, in league with " — he pointed downward — " the 
dark potentate you have named, if you like. Whatever 1 
I have truthfully told you the past, as I will truth- 



am 



>f 



fully tell your son's future. ■ 

'* By palmistry?" 

" No, by the stars. And behold!" cried the astrologer, 
drawing aside the curtain, " yonder they shine!" 

Surely, the storm had cleared away, leaving the world 
wrapped in a windin'^-sheet of dead white, and up in 
heaven the silver stars swung crystal - clear, sparkling 
bright. 

" Take me to an upper room," the astrologer exclaimed, 
in an inspired tone, " and leave me. Destiny is propitious. 
The fate that ruled your son's birth has set forth 'he shin- 
ing stars for Achmet to read. Lead on!" 

Like a man in a dreamy swoon. Sir Jasper Kingsland 
obeyed. He led the astrologer up the grand sweeping 
staircases — up and up, to the very top of the house — to the 
lof'-y, lonely battlements. Cloudless spread the wide night 
sky; countless and brilliant shone the stars; peaceful and 
majestic slept the purple sea; spotless white gleamed the 
snowy earth. A weird, witching scene. 

"Leave me," said the astrologer, "and watch and 
wait. When the first little pink cloud of sunrise blushes 
in the sky, come to me. My task will have ended. " 

He waved him away with a regal motion. He stood 
there gazing at the stars, as a king looking upon his sub- 
jects. And the haughty baronet, without a word, turned 
and left him. 

The endless hours wore on — two, three, and four — and 
Btill the baronet watched and waited, and looked for the 
coming of dawn. Faintly the silver light broke in the 
Orient, rosy flushed the first red ray. Sir Jasper mounted 
to the battlements, still like a man in a dazed dream. 

Achmet the Astrologer turned slowly round. The pale, 
frosty sunrise had blanched his ever- white face with a livid 
hue of death. In one hand ho held a folded paper, in the 
other a pencil. He had been writing. 

" Have you done?" the baronet asked. 

•' 1 am done. Your son's fate is here." 

He touched the paper; he spoke in a voice of awful sol- 







THE BARONET'S BRIDE. 



17 



4 



•mniiy; his eyes had a wild, dilated look, from which Sir 
Jasper shrunk, they looked so horribly like the eyes of a 
man who has been face to face with disembodied spirits. 

" Is that for me?" he asked, shrinking palpably from it 
even while he spoke. 

"This is for you." The astrologer handed him the 
paper as he spoke. "It is for you to read — to do with 
after as you see fit. 1 have but one word to say: not I, 
but a mightier power traced the words you will read — 
your son's irrevocable fate. Don't hope to shirk it. Fate 
is fate; doom is doom. My task is ended, and 1 go. Fare- 
well!" 

No, no," the baronet cried; "not so! Remain and 



>) 



breakfast here. The morning is but just breaking.' 

" And before yonder sun is above the horizon I will be 
far away. No, Sir Jasper Kingsland, 1 break no bread 
under your roof. I have done my work, and depart for- 
ever. Look to your son!" 

He spoke the last words slowly, with a tigerish glare of 
hate leaping out of his eyes, with deadly menace in eveiy 
eyllable. Then he was gone down the winding stair- way 
like a black ghost, and so out and away. 

Sir Jasper Kingsland took the folded paper and sought 
Tiis room. There in the pale day-dawn he tore it open. 
One side was covered with cabalistic characters. Eastern 
symbols, curious marks, and hieroglyphics. The other 
kjide was written in French, in long, clear, legible char- 
acters. There was a heading: " Horoscope of the Heir of 
Kingsland. " Sir Jasper sat down eagerly, and began to 
read. 

Nearly an hour after, a servant, entering to replenish 
the faded fire, fled out of the room and startled the house- 
hold with his shrieks. Two or three domestics rushed in. 
There lay Sir Jasper Kingsland prone on his face on the 
floor, stiff and stark as a dead man. A paper, unintelli- 
gible to all, was clutched tightly as a death grip in his 
hand. Beading that crumpled paper, the strong man had 
fallen there flat on the floor in a dead swoon. 



i 



%S THE baronet's bride. 



CHAPTER IIL 

THE HUT ON THE HEATH. 

Far away from the lofty, battlemented ancestral home 
of Sir Jasper Kingsland — miles away where the ceaseless 
sea sparkled the long day through as if sown with stars— 
where the foamy swells rolled in dull thunder up the white 
sands— straight to the seashore wont Achmet the Astrolo- 
ger. A long strip of bleak marshland spreading down the 
hill-side and sloping to the slu, arid and dry in the burn- 
ing summer-time— sloppy and sodden now — that was his 
destination. It was called Ilunsden's Heath — a forlorn 
and desolate spot, dotted over with cottages of the most 
wretched kind, inhabited by the most miserable of the 
miserable poor. To one of these wretched hovels, stand- 
ing nearest the sea and far removed from the rest, Ach- 
met swiftly made his way. 

The sun was high in the heavens; the sea lay all a-glit- 
ter beneath it. The astrologer had got over the ground at 
a swift, swinging stride, and he had walked five miles at 
least; but he paused now, with little sign of fatigue in his 
strange white face. Folding his arms over his breast, he 
surveyed the shining sky, the glittering sea, with a slow, 
dreamy smile. 

" The sun shines and the sea sparkles on the natal day 
uf the heir of Kingsland, 'Mie said to himself ; *' but for 
all that it is a fatal day to him. * The sins of the father 
shall be visited a the children even to the third and fourth 
generation,' saith the Book Christians believe in. Chris- 
tians!" he laughed a harsh, strident laugh. " Sir Jasper 
Kingsland is a Christian! The religion that produces such 
men must be a glorious one. He was a Christian when he 
perjured himself and broke her heart. 'Tis well. As a 
Christian he can not object to the vengeance Christianity 
teaches. " 

He turned away, approached the lonely hut, and tapped 
thrice— sharp, staccato knocks — at the door. The third 
one was answered. The door swung back, and a dark 
damsel looked out. 

" Is it thee, Piecro?" 

"ItisI, Zara.^ 



>f 



THE BAUOKET S BllTDE. 



It 



tral home 

) ceaseless 
th stars— 
the white 
B Astrolo- 
dowii the 
the b lim- 
it was his 
•a forlorn 
the most 
lie of the 
3ls, stand- 
rest, Ach- 

all a-glit- 
^ round at 
Q miles at 
gue in his 
breast, he 
th a slow, 

natal day 
*' but for 
he father 
nd fourth 
Chris- 
5ir Jasper 
uces such 
L when he 
i\\. As a 
iristianity 

id tapped 
Che third 
d a dark 



He stepped in as ho apol.o, closed the door, took her 
face between Lit. hands, and kissed both brown cheek*- 
The girl's durk i'av.e — a hamisoiiK) fiice, wilh somber shin 
ing eyes and dark tresties — Jigiil fd up into ihe sjdendoi ot 
ivbsolute beauty as ylie re'. urmd his earess. 

" And how is it v. ilh tiiee, ni} Ziua,' ' thy a^-trologer said, 
"and ilry- litLlo one:^" 

'' It io well. Anil tliy^.Uf, I'ijtro?'' 

" Very well. And the moihor?** 

" Ah, tho mother! Poo;- molhcr! She lies as you saw 
ber lafci. — aij you will always see her in this lower worlds- 
uiead in life! Auil lie. " — tii'3 girl Zara's eyes lighted fierce- 
ly up—" didst {.ee iiini, Pietro?" 

" I have seen liini, spoken to him, told him the paslv 
and terrified him for tho futuje. There is a son, Zara — a 
acw-born son." 

" Dog antl son of a dog I" Zara cried, furiously. " Ma» 
eiMses light upon him in liic hour of his birth, and uytor* 
all wlio bear his hated namel Say, Pietro, why didst tho" 
not strangle the liitie viper as you would any other poison- 
ous reptile?'' 

The man laughed softly. 

" My Zara, I did not even see him. He lies cradled in 
rose leave.-i, no doubt, ami (he singing of the west wind i»» 
not sweet enough for his lullaby. No profane eye musfc 
re«t on this sacred treasure h\:i':\i from the hands of th''' 
gods! Is he not the hoir of Kingsland? Jiut, sweet, * 
have read the stars for them. Achmtt the Aslrologer has 
cast his horo^eope, and Aehmet, and Zara, his v^ife, will see 
that the starry do;?Liiiy is fuJiJiled. Shall sve not;'" 



If I onlv had him hero," Zara cried, clawinc" the 



[II « 



with her two handi^ her black eyes blazimr, '* I woula 
throttle the baby Knako, and liing him dead in his father' 



fact 



And tlhit father! Oh, biuninir alive would be far 



too mereiftd for him!" 

Aohmet smiled, and drew her long black braids caress- 
ingly thiougli his lingers. 

" You know liow to hate, and you will teach our little 
one. Yes, the fate I have foretolu <ihail eome to pass, and 
the son of Sir Jasper will live to curse the day of his birth- 
And now I will remove my dioguise, and wash and break 
fast, for I feel the calls oi' hunger. Then I will see the 
mother." 



20 



THE HARONET's HIilDE. 



II 



clothing 



" Slio lias been waiting for your coming," Zara 8ai#« 
" 8I10 counts the moments when you are away." 

►She led the way into the room. There was but the one 
room and a loft above. The lower apartment of the liut 
on the heath was the very picture of abject poverty ami 
dreary desolation. The earthen iloor was broken and 
rough; the sunlight came sifting through the chinivs in 
the broken walls. A smoky fire of wet driftwood sulked 
and smoldered, black and forbidding, under a pot on the 
crook. There was neither table nor chairs. A straw pal- 
let with a wretched coverlet lay in one corner; a few broken 
stools were scattered around; a few articles of " 
hung on the wall. That was all. 

" The little one sleeps," the man said, casting a swif* 
glance over at the pallet. " Our pretty baby, Zara. Ab* 
if Sir Jasper Kingsland loves his first-born son as we lov** 
our child, or half so well, we are almost avenged already!' 

" He had need to love it better than his first-born daugh 
terl'' Zara said, fiercely. "The lion loves its whelp, th** 
tiger its cub; but he, less human than the brutes, casts ot^ 
his offspring in the hour of its birth!" 

" Meaning yourself, my Zara?" the man said, with hi« 
slow, soft smile. " What would you have, degrade(* 
daughter of a degraded mother — his toy of an hour? Anc^ 
there is another daughter — a fair-haired, insipid nonentity* 
of a dozen years, no more like our beautiful one here than 
a farthing rush-light is like the stars of heaven. " 

He drew down the tattered quilt, and gazed with shin 
ing eyes of love and admiration at the sleeping face of **■ 
child, a baby girl of scarce two years; the cherub face rosv 
with sleep, smiling in her dreams; the long, silky black 
lashes sweeping the Hushed cheek; the abundant, feathery . 
jet-black curls floating loosely about — an exquisite pictur<3 
of blooming, healthful, beautiful childhood. 

Zara came to where the man knelt gazing with adoring 
face, her wide black eyes glistening. 

*' My beautiful one! my rosebud!" she murmurefl. 
" Pietro, the sun shines on nothing half so lovely in this 
lower world!" 

The man glanced up with his lazy smile. 

'* And yet the black, bad blood of the Gitana flows iir 
her veins, too. She is a Spanish gypsy,, as her mother and 



THE baronet's UiaDE. 



2A 



the 



grandmother boforo Iilm*. Nay, not hor inoLhor, since th« 
bh»o blood of jiU tlio Kin,L^sl:inds Hows in her veins." 

"Never!" cried Z:ii-. "her eyes ablaze. "If 1 thought 
one drop of that man's bitter blood throbbed in my heart, 
the first knife I met sliould let it forth. Look at me!" 
she wildly cried, tossing back her raven hair; " look o-t 
me, Pietro— Zara, your wife! Have I one look of him or 
his abhorred English race?'' 

" My Zara, no! You are Sir Jasper Kingsland's daugh- 
ter, but there is no look of the great Sir Jasper in your 
gypsy face, nor in the face of our darling, either. She ia 
all our own!" 

" I would strangle her in her cradle, dearly as I love her-. 
else!" the woman said, her passionate face aflame 
" Pietro, my blood is like liquid tire when 1 think of liiniv 
and my mother's wrongs." 

" Wait, Zara — wait. The wheel will turn and our tim*^ 
come. And now for breakfast! Dost know, wife, Sr* 
Jasper Kingsland asked me to break his bread and drink 
of his cup?" 

"The villain! the traitor! the dastard! I only wonder 
the very air of his house did not stifle you! Haste, Pietro,, 
and remove this disguise. Your morning meal is ready.' 

She whipped oft the pot, removed the lid, and a savory 
gush of steam filled the room. The man Pietro laughed. 

" Our poached hare smells appetizing. Keep tho 
choicest morsel for the mother, Zara, and tell her I wiU 
be with her presently. There! Achmet the Astrologer liea 
in a heap." 

He had deftly taken off his flowing cloak, his long, sil- 
very beard and hair, and flung them together in a corner;) 
and now he stood in the center of the room, a stalwart 
young fellow of thirty or thereabouts, with great Spanish 
eyes and profuse curling hair of an inky blackness. 
' " Let me but wash this white enamel off my face," he 
said, giving himself a shake, " and Pietro is himself again. 
Sir Jasper would hardly recognize Achmet, I fancy, if he 
saw him now." 

He walked to a shelf on which was placed a wash-bowl 
and towel, and plunged his face and head into the cold 
water. Five minutes' vigorous splashing and rubbing* 
and he emerged, his pallid face brown as a berry, his black 
hair in a snarl of crisp qurls. 



iifl 



1! 

ii 



33 



THE BARON KTS nJUI).;. 



n 






It 



*' And now to satisfy I bo iimor nian,'* ho saifl, walkings 
over to the ])ot. seizing a woDdcn spoon, auil (li-awiii;^ up ''• 
oriokct. "My trump ol! last ui'^^lil untl tliid mornifig lijw 
mado nie famously hungry, Zara." 

" And tho liaro soup is good,"' salil Zara. '* While you 
breakfast, Piutro, 1 will go to niotlier. Come up wheG 
you linii^h. *' 

A stee[) stair-way that was liko a hulder led £o the loft. 
Zartt asconded tliis with agilo lieetucrfrf, mid the lato as- 
trologor was left alouo at liij very unmagieian-liko work of 
scraping the pot with a wooden sjjoon. Once or twiee, a^ 
the fancy crossed him of the contrast between Achmet th*i 
Astrologer reading Iho stars, and Pietro the tramp scrap- 
ing tho bonos of tho stolen hare, he laughed grimly t^ 
himself. 

" And the world is made np of Just such contrasts," hf- 
thought, " and Pietro at his hi^mely breakfast is more t^-'- 
bo dreaded tlian Achmet casting the horoscope. Ah! Si- 
Jasper Kingshuid, it is a ve-.-y fine thing to be a barone*" 
with fifteen thousand ^^ounds a year, a noble ancestral seal- 
a wife you love, and a son you adore. And yet Pietro, th^-- 
vagabond tramp — tho sunburned gyp^-sy, witli stolen harow 
to eat, and rags to wear, and a hut Lo lodge in — would no*- 
exchange places with you this bright March day. Wo hav*'- 
sworn vendetta to you and all of your blood, and by — ^ 
he uplifted his arm and swore a fearful oath — " we wiU 
keep our vow!"' 

His swarthy face darkened with passionate vindictive- 
iiess as he arose, a devil gleaming in either fierce blaoK 
eye. 

" ' As a man sows so shall he reap,* " he muttered be- 
tween his clinched teeth, setting his face toward Kingsland 
Court. " You, my Lord of Kingsland, have sown the 
wind. You shall learn what it is to reap the whirlwind!" 

*' Pietro! Pietro!'' crowed a little voice, gleefully. 
** Papa Pietro! take Sunbeam!" 

The little sleeper in tho bed had sat up, her bright, dark 
face sparkling, i;wo little dimpled arms outstretched. 

The man turned, his vindictive face growing radiant. 

*' Papa Pietro's darling! his life! his angel! And ho\» 
does the little Sunbeam?" 

He caught her up, covering her cherub face with impa»- 
stoned kisses. 



tjn: lUiioNF/ra urtiDE. 



29 



■'Mylovol my lifol my durliiiLr! Whuii Pietro is doiul, 
niul ZiU'U is old iiiul fueblu, and ZlmuLIi dust and ashes, you 
\vill livo, my ruiliiiiit aiigcl, my blauk-oyed beauty, to por- 
petimto the malediction. When hia son ia u man, you will 
bo a svoman, with all a woman's subtle [)Ower and more 
tlian a woruiui'rf bi.'iiuty, and you will be his curse, and his 
bane, and his blijilit, as his father has been oura! Will 
you not, my little Sunbeam?'^ 

*' Yes, papa — }es, pupa!'' lis[)C'd the little one, patting 
his brown cheeks and kirfsiiig thorn lovingly. " Sunbeam 
iS jnipa'u own girl, aivd will do what pa])a says." 

** i'ietro!" called the voice of his wife above, *' if you 
5tiave done breakfast, come up. Mother is awake and 
U'ould see you." 

" Coming, carissuna!'' 

IIo kissed the biiby girl, placed her ou the pallet, and 
sprung lightly up the steep stair. 

The loft was just a f-hude less wretched than the apart- 
ment below. There was a bed on the iloor, more decently 
'oovered, two broken chairs, a table with some medicine- 
iyottles and cups, and a white curtain on the one poor win- 
••iow. By this ivindow Zara stood, gazing out over the 
bunlit sea. 

On the bed lay a woman, over whom Pietro bent rever- 
ently the moment he entered the room. It was the wreck 
ji a woman who, in the days gone by, must have been 
gloriously beautiful; who was beautiful still, despite the 
ravages years, and sickness, and j)overty, and despair liad 
wrought. 

The eyes that blaznd brilliant and black were the eyes of 
Kara — the cyeso? the buby Sunbeam below — and this wom- 
an was the mother of one, the grandmother of the other. 

Pietro knelt by the pallet aiid tenderly kissed one trans- 
parent hand. The gn at black eyes turned upon him wikl 
and wide. 

" Thou hast seen him, Pietro?" in a breathless sort of 
Way. '' Zara says so." 

" 1 have seen him, my mother; I have spoken to him. 
i spent hours with Sir Jasper Kiiigshind last night." 

" Thou didst?" Her woids came i)antijigly, while pas- 
liiou throbbed in every line of her face. *' And there is c. 
Bon — an heir?" 

"There is.'* 



!•: a 



m 



!>i 



m 



f 



M 



IHE UAllONETS BRIDE. 



She snatched hor hand away and throw up hor withorod 
iirms witli a vindictivo shriek. 

" And 1 lio horo, a helpless log, and ho trium])hs! I, 
2enitli, tho Queon of tho Tribe — 1, once beautiful and pow- 
erful, hapi)y and free! I lie hero, a withered liiflk, what 
he has made mo! And a son and heir is born to him!" 

As if the thought had goaded hor to a f ron/y of nuulno«s, 
sho leajyjd up in bed, tossing her gaunt arms and shrieking 
madly: 

'* Take mo to him — take me to him! Zara! l^ietro! 
Take mo to him, if yo are children of mine, that J may 
hurl my burning curse upon him and his son before I diol 
Take mo to him, I say, or I will curse yo!" 

Sho fell back with an impotent scream, and tho man 
fiefcro caught her in his arms. Quivering and convulsed, 
x'oaming at the mouth and black in tho face, sho writhed 
\n an epileptic fit. 

" She will kill herself yet,'* Piotro said. " Hand mo 
the drops, Zara." 

Zara poured something out of a bottle into a cup, and 
iPietro held it to the sick woman's livid lips. 

She choked and swallowed, and, as if by magic, lay still 
in his arms. Very tenderly ho laid her back on the bed. 

" She will sleep now, Zura," he said. " Lot us go." 

They descended the stairs. Down below, the man laid 
"tiis hands on his wife's shoulders and looked solemnly into 
llier face. 

*' Watch her, Zara," he said, " for sho is mad, and tho 
very first opportunity sho will make her escape and seek 
out Sir Jasper Kingsland; and that is the very last thing 
1 want. So watoh your mother well." 



<li 



V 

I I! 



CHAPTER IV. 

AN UNINVITED GUEST. 

Sir Jasper Kingsland stood moodily alone. He was 
in the library, standing by the window — that very window 
through which, one stormy night scarcely a month be- 
.fore, he had admitted Achmet the Astrologer. He stood 
ibhere with a face of such dark gloom that all the bright- 
ness of the sunlit April day could not cast one enlivening 
gleam. 






THE HAROXET'S BRIDE. SI 

' Ami ycit the prosj)0(3t on wliluh ho givzod miglit hav« 
mudo luminous tho fnco of tiny ooninion nuui, although 
not 80 blcssoil as to bo its ownor. ISvvelling nieailowH all 
his own; volvoty hiwns sloping away to sunlit torracoa. 
where gauily poacouks strutted; long, leafy areadoa 
through whioh tho golden sunlight sifted in amber rain; 
waving trees and dark ])hintations. Over all the (doudlesa 
Ai)ril sky, and far beyond the si)arkling, sunny sea. 

JJut not all the glory of earth and sky could lighten that 
settled cloud of blaekcs-t gloom on tho wealthy baronet's 
face. IIo stood tiiere soowling darkly upon it all, so lost 
in his own son'ber thoughts that ho did not hear the library 
door open, nor the soft rustlo of a woman's dress as slio 
lialted on tho threshold. 

A fair and stately lady, with a proud, colorless fac^ 
lighted up with j^ale-bluo eyes, and with bands of pal« 
ilaxen hair pushed away under a dainty lace cap — a 'ady 
who looked scarce thirty, although almost ten years olaer 
unmistakably handsome, unmistakably j^^'f^n^l' -^t W;v« 
Olivia, Lady Kingsland. 

" Alone, Sir Jasper!" a musical voice said. " May i 
come in, or do you i)refer solitude and your own thoughts?* ' 

The sweet voice — soft and low, as a lady's voice should 
be — broke tho somber spell that bound him. He wheeled 
round, his dark, moody face lighting up at sight of her, an 
all tho glorious morning sunshine never could have lighter* 
it. That one radiant look would have told you how liu 
loved his wife. 

'* You, Olivia?" ho cried, advancing. " Surely this k 
a surprise! My dearest, is it quite prudent in you to leavo 
your room?" 

He took the slender, white-robed figure in his arms, anrl 
kissed her as tenderly as a bridegroom of a week inighn 
have done. Lady Kingsland laughed a soft, tinkling lit- 
tle iaugh. 

** A month is quite long enough to be a prisoner, .Tasper, 
even although a prisoner of state. And on my boy's 
christening fete — the son and heir 1 have desired so long 
— ah, surely a weaker mother than 1 might essay to quil 
her room. " 

The moody darkness, like a palpable frown, swept over 
the baronet's face again at her words. 

*' Is he dressed?'* he asked. 



26 



THE baronet's bride. 



ii 



t 



'* He is dressed and asleep, and Lady Helen and Mr« 
Oiirlyon, his godmother and godfiithor, are hovering over 
the crib hke twin guardian aDgels. And Mildred sits e9€ 
(jrandfi tenuo on her cricket, in a speechless trance of de- 
light, and nurse rustles about in her new silk gown and 
white laoe cap with an air oi importance and self-comi)la-- 
eency almost indescribable. The domestic picture only wants 
pai)a and mamma to make it complete." 

felie lauglied m slie spoke, a little sarcastically; but Sir 
Jasper's attempt even to smile was a ghastly failure. 

Lady Kingsland folded both her h.inds on his shoulder, 
and looked up in his face with anxious, bearching eyes. 

" What is it?" she asked. 

The baronet laughed uneasily. 

" What is what?" 

" This gloom, this depression, this dark, mysterious 
moodiness. Jasper, wliat has changed you of late?'* 

" Mysterious moodines:iI changed me of late! Nonsense. 
Olivia! 1 don't know what you mean." 

Again he strovi; to laugh, and again it was a wretched, 
failure. 

Lady Kingsland's light-blue ej'es never left his face. 

" I think you do, Jasi)er. Since the night of our boy'a 
birth you have been another man. What is it?" 

A si)asm crossed the baronet's face; his li2)s twitched 
convulsively; liis face slowly changed to a gray, ashen pal 
lor. 

" What is it?"' tlie lady slowly reiterated. " Surely m,V 
husband, after all tlieso years, has no secrets from me?" 

The tender reproach of her tone, of her eyes, stung the 
husband, who loved her, to tlie quick. 

" For God's sake, ()livia, don't a.:;k me!" ho cried, pas- 
sionately. ''It would bo shecresit nonsonsL* in your eyes, 
I know. You would but laugh at what half drives me 
mail!" 

"Jasper!" 

" Don't look at me with that reproachful face, Olivia! 
It is true. You would look upon it as sheerest folly, I 
tell you, and laugh at mo for a credulous fool." 

" No," said Lady Kingslaiul, quietly, and a little coldly, 
*' You know me better. 1 could never laugh at what give* 
ftiy husband pain." 

"Pain! 1 have liTed in torment ever since, and yet^ 



II! Ill 



THE ■RAEOXET'S -RRTDE. 



2? 



»Tho knows? — it may be absurrlost jngcrlery. But he told 
me ^le past so truly — niv very thoughts! And no one 
3on!(l know what hiijincncd in ^pv'm so many years ago! 
Oh, 1 must btslievi^ it — I can not h^lp it — and that belief 
<\'ill drive me mad!'" 
• The outburst '.vas more to himself than to her. He even 
forgot ?he was there. 

Lady KingHlaml stood looking and listening, in pale 
A'onder. 

*' I don't understand a word of this/* she said, slowly. 
'' Will you tell me, Sir Ja-per, or am I to understand 
you h;ive secrets your wife may not share?'* 

Jlo turned to her, took boih her hands, and gazed into 
her pale, patrician fai o ./ilh a look of pas.:iouate pain. 

"My own dear wii'o," ho said— "my best beloved — 
tleaveii knows, if I have one secret from you, I keep it 
v.hat 1 mjy save you sorrow. X't one cloud should ever 
<iarken the sunshine of your sky, if I had my way. You 
«ire right — 1 have a. secret — a secret of horror, and dread, 
>»nd dismay — a te'-rible secret that sears my brain and burns 
tny heart! Olivj.i, my darliiig, its very horror prevents 
.'uy telling it to you!" 

'* Does it concern our boy?'* she asked, quickly. 

"Yes!'* with a groan. " IS'ow you can understand its 
rull terror. It meiuices the S(m I love more than life. 1 
^bought to keep it from you; I tried to aj^pear unchanged; 
but it seems I havo failed miserably. '* 

" And you will not tell me what this secret is?** 

" I dare not! 1 would not have you suffer as 1 sutTer. ** 

" A momnut ago,*' said his wife, impatiently, " you said 
*i would laugh at it and you. Your terra • a:e inconsistent, 
fciir Jasper." 

" Spare me, Olivia! — I Hcarco know what J say — and do 
Brot be angrv. '* 

She drew her hands coldiv and haucrhfilv away from his 
grasp. She was a thoroughly prouil vromaii, and his secrecy 
stung her. 

" I am not angry, Sir Jasper. Kee{) your secret, if you 
M'ill. ^. was foolisdi cnoucdi to fancv 1 had ii;{ht to know 
'.A any I'anger that menaces my baby, })ut it a]>pt ars 1 was 
♦nistakcn. In half an hour the carriages will start for the 
»;hureh. You will find us all in !he nursery.'* 



98 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



,'F 



i; 



Slie was sweeping proudly away in silent anger, but the 
T)aronet strode after her and caught her arm. 

" You will know this!" he said, huskily. *' Olivia, 
Olivia! you are cruel to yourself and to me, but you shall 
hear — part, at least. I warn you, however, you will be no 
happier for knowing," 

" Go on," she said, steadily. 

He turned from her, walked to the window, and kept 
liis back to her while he spoke. 

"You have no faith in fortune-tellers, clairvoyants, 
astrologers, and the like, have you, Olivia?" 

" Most certainly not!" 

" Then what I have to say will scarcely trouble you as it 
troubles me — for I believe; and the prediction of an astrolo- 
ger has ruined my peace for the past month. " 

Lady Kingsland lifted her blonde eyebrows and laughed. 

" Is that all? The mountain in labor has brought forth 
H mouse. My dear Sir Jasper, how can you be so simply 
uredulous?" 

"I knew you would laugh," said Sir Jasper, moodily; 
••' 1 said so. But laugh if you can. I believe!" 

"Was the prediction very terrible, then?" asked his 
wife, with a smile. " Pray tell me all about it." 

" It was terrible," her husband replied, sternly. " The 
living horror it has cast over me might have told you that. 
Jjisten, Olivia! On that night of our baby boy's birth, 
wfter I left you and came here, I stood by this window and 
fciaw a spectral face gleaming through the glass. It was 
the face of a man — a belated wayfarer — who adjured me, 
in the Saviour's name, to let him in." 

"Well," said Lady Kingsland, composedly, "you let 
him in, I suppose?" 

" 1 let him in — a strange-looking object, Olivia, like no 
creature 1 ever saw before, with flowing beard and hair 
silver-white — " 

"False, no doubt." 

" He wore a long, disguising cloak and a skull-cap," 
went on Sir Jasper, heedless of the interruption, " and his 
tace was blanched to a dull dead white, lie would have 
looked like a resuscitated corpse, only for a pair of burn- 
ing black eyes." 

Lady Kingsland shrugged her pretty shoulders. 

" Quite a startling appar'^j'on! Melodramatic in the ex- 



1 



I 



THE BARONET'S BKIDE. 



29 



ff 



,T 



And this singular being- 
- -> 

an Eastern 



treme 

j,nt, astrologer, what?" 



what was he? Clairvoy- 
Achmet 



*' Astrologer — an Eastern astrologer — Achmet by 
name." 

'* And who, probably, never was further than London 
in his life-time. A well-got-up charlatan, no doubt." 

" Charlatan he may have been; Enj^lishmau he was not. 
His face, his speech, convinced me of that. And, Olivia, 
charlatan or no, he told me my past life as truly as 1 
knew it myself." 

Lady Kingsland listened with a quiet smile. 

" No doubt he has been talking to the good people of 
the village and to the servants in the house." 

*' Neither the people of the village nor the servants of 
the house know aught of what he told me. lie lifted the 
veil of the past, and showed me what transj'ired twenty 
years ago." 

" Twenty years ago?" 

" Yes, when I was fresh from Cambridge, and making 
niy first tour. Events that occurred in Spain — that no 
i,ne under heaven save myself can know of — he told me. 
He revealed to me my ver}' thoughts in that by-gone time." 

Lady Kingsland knit her solemn brows. 

" That was strange!" 

" Olivia, it was astounding — incomprehensible! 1 should 
uever have credited one word he said but for that. He 
iiOld me the i)ast as 1 know it myself. Events that trans- 
pired in a far foreign land a score of years ago, known, as 
v thought, to no creature under heaven, he told me of as 
vf they had transpired yesterday. The very thoughts that 
1 thought in that by-gone time he revealed as if my heart 
lay open before him. How, then, could I doubt? If he 
could lift the veil of the irrevocable past, why not be able 
to lift (.tie veil of the mysterious future? He took the hour 
of our child's birth and ascended to the battlements, and 
there, alone with the stars of heaven, he cast his horoscope. 
Olivia, men in all ages have believed in this supernatural 
power of astrology, and I believe as firmly as 1 believe in 
Heaven." 

Lady Kingsland listened, and that quiet smile of half 
umusement, half contempt never h.ft her lips. 

" And the horoscope proved a horror^jcope, no doubt. 



}) 



50 



THE BAKONET'S KUIDB. 






whe snid, the smilo deepening. " You p-xid your astrologer 

haudsoiiiely, I juvsuuie, JSir Jasper?" 

" I gave liiiu nothing. lie would talvo nothing — not 
even a cup of wutei*. Of his own free will ho cast the 
Horoscope, and, without reward of any kind, went his 
way when he had done." 

'' Wliat did you say the name was?" 

" x\chniet tlie Astrologer. •** 

"Melodramatic sgainl And now, Sir Jasper, what 
Hwful fate hetii-ics ou.* bjy?" the asked, wiih that derisive 
bmile on her face, and her husband turned moodily away. 

'' Content you, Olivia! Ask me not! You do not he- 
lieve. You woidd not if I told you, and it is better so. 
What the astrologer foretold I shall tell no one." 

"■ The carrliigo waits, my ludy," a servant said, enter- 
ing. '" Lady Helen bade me remind you, my lady, it is 
time to start for (hui(;h. " 

Lady Kingsland hastily glanced at her watch. 

" Why, so it is! 1 had nearly forgotten. Come, Sir 
t/asper, and forget your gloom and su2)er3titious feai'S on 
Uiis happy day." 

She led him from the room. Baby, in its christening- 
x-obes, slept in nurse's arms, and Lady Helen and Mr. Oarl- 
you stood impatiently v^'uiting. 

"We will certainly be late'!'* Lady Helen, who was 
f^odmanima, said, fussily. "Had we not better depart at 
t.nce. Sir Jasper?" 

" I am quite at your ladyship's service. Wo will not 
(lelay an instant longer. Proceed, nurse." 

Nurse, witli her precious burden, went before. Sir Jas- 
^>er drew Ludy Helen's arm within his own, and Mr. Carl- 
yon followed with li.tle Mildred Kingsland. 

Lady Kingsland watched the carriage out of faight, and 
then went slowly and thoughtfidly back to her room. 

" How extremely foolish and weak of Sir Jasper," she 
was thinldng, " to pay the slightest attention to the cant- 
iiig nonsense of these fortune-telling impostors! If I had 
been in his place 1 would have had him horsewhipped from 
my gates for his pains. I mast Ihul out what this terrible 
prediction was and laugh it out of my silly husband's 
liiiind." 

Meantime the carriage rolled down the long avenue. 



I 



I 



ii 



tn 



THE BARONET S BRIDE. 



3t 






!i 



under the majestic coppor-bcochcs, thvonpjh tlio lofty gutosi 
and ulon;!; the bright Kunlit rruul hauling to tho village;. 

Ill stole and surplice, wilhiii the vill.'ige ciuirth, the Rev- 
erend Cyi'iis GretMi, IiGctor of 8r<;n(. haven, stood by the 
baptismal f<.'Ut, waiting to biiptizu the heir of all llie King.'*- 
Iauu8. 

A few loiterers stood around (he entrance; a few wore 
scattered amo ig the pews, siaring with wide-open eyes as 
the christening procession passeil in. 

Stately and uplifted, Sir Jasper Kingsland strode up (he 
aisle, with Lady I[elen upon his arm. Xo trace of the 
trouble within showed in his pale, set face as ho stood 
little aloof and heard his son baptized Everard Jaspo' 
Carew Kingsland. 

The ceremony was over. Xurse took the infant baronet 
again; Lady Helen adjusted her mantle, sh'ghLly awry fr(»rr 
holding baby, and the lieverund Cyrus Green wa^; bhimlly 
olfering his congratulations to the greatest man in th^^i 
parish, when a sudden commotion at the door starthd all 
Some one striving to enter, and some other one refusing, 
admission. 

" Let me in, 1 tell j'ou!" cried a shrill, piercing voioe— ' 
the voice of an angry woman. " Stand aside, woman! 1 
will see Sir Ja«}).r Ki'tgbluud!'^ 

With the last ringing words the intruder burst past thfv 
pew-opener, and rushed wildly into the church. A weirrt 
and unearthly figure — like one of Macbetli's witches — with 
streaming black hair floating ovor a long, red cloalc, anci 
two black eyes of llame. All recoiled as the spectral iJg- 
ure rushed up like a mad thing and confronted Sir Jasper 
Kingsland. 

" At last!" she shrilly cried, in a voice that pierctd even 
to the gaping listeners without — "at last, Sir Jasper 
Kingsland! At last sve meet again!'* 

There was a horrible cry as the baronet started back., 
putting up both bands, udth a look of unutterable horror. 

"Good God! Zenith;*' 

"Yes, Zenith!" shrieked (he woman; " Zenitli, the 
beautiful, once! Zenith, the hag, the crone, the mad worn-' 
an, now! Look at me well, Sir Jasper Kingsland — for th'" 
ruin is your own handiwork!" 

He stood like a man paralyzed — speechless, stunued-' 
his face the livid hue ol death. 



,1 



3» 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 






The wretched woman stood before him with streaming 
hair, blazing eyes, and uplifted arm, a very incarnate f m'y, 

" Look at me well!*' she fiercely shrieked, tossing her 
iocks of eld off her fiery face. " Am I like the Zenith of 
twenty years ago — young and beautiful, and bright enough 
eren for the fastidious Englishman to love? Look at ma 
now — ugly and old, wrinkled and wretched, deserted and 
despised — and tell me if I have not greater reason to hato 
you than ever woman had to hate man?*' 

She tossed her arms aloft with a madwoman's shriek — 
crying out her words in a long, wild scream. 

"I hate you— 1 hate youT Villain! dastard! perjured 
wretch! I hate you, and I curse you, here in the church 
you call holy! 1 curse you with a ruined woman's curse^ 
and hot and scathing may it burn on your head and on thfl 
heads of your children's children!" 

The last horrible scream, the last horrible words, aroused 
the listeners from their petrified trance. The Reverend 
Cyrus Green lifted up his voice in a ringing tone of com- 
mand: 

" This woman is mad ! She is a furious lunatic! Daw- 
son! Humphreys! come here and secure her!" 

But before the jvords were spoken, the madwoman's eyew 
had fallen upon the nurse and baby. 

"The child! the child!" she cried, with a screech of 
demoniac delight; "the spawn of the viper is within my 
grasp!" 

One plunge forward and the infant heir was in her arms, 
lield high aloft. One second later, and its blood and brains 
would have bespattered the stone floor, but Mr. Carlyon 
sprung forward and wrenched it from her grasp. 

The two men summoned by the clergyman closed upon 
her and held her fast. It took all their united strength 
for a few moments; she struggled with a madwoman's 
might; her frantic shrieks rang to the roof. Then, sud- 
denly, all ceased, and, foaming and livid, she fell between 
them in an epileptic fit — a dreadful sight to see. 



CHAPTER V. 
zenith's malediction. 
A DEAD pause of blank consternation; the faces around 
a sight to see; horror and wonder in every eountenanct*- 



(^ 






^ 



i 



} 



THE IJAKONET'S BRIDB. 31 

— most of all in the couutenance of Sir .Jasper Kiugsland. 
Deal], and in his cottin, the baronet would never look 
more horribly livid than he did now. 

The clergyman was the first to recover presence of mind 
—the first to speak. 

'* The woman is stark mad," he said. " We must see 
about this. 8uch violent lunatics must not be allowed to 
go at large. Here, Humphreys, do you and Dawson lift 
hor up and carry her to my house. It is the nearest, and 
she can bo properly attended to there." 

" You know her, Sir Jasjier, do you not?" asked Ladj 
Helen, with (juick womanly intuition, looking with keen, 
suspicious '^vcs into the baronet's ghastly face. 

" Know her?" Sir Jasper replied, in a stunned sort of 
way — " know Zenith? Great Heaven! I thought she was 
dead." 

The Keverend Cyrus Green and Lftdy Helen exchanged 
glances. Mr. Carlyon looked in sharp surprise at the 
8])eaker. 

" Then she is not mad, after all! I thought she mistook 
you for some one else. If you know her, you have the best 
right to deal with her. Shall these men take her to Kings- 
land Court?" 

" iSlot for ten thousand worlds!" Sir Jasper cried, im- 
petuously. " The woman is nothing — less than nothing — 
to me. I knew her once, years ago. 1 thought her dead 
and buried; hence the shock her sudden entrance gave 
me. A lunatic asylum is the j^roper place for such as she. 
Let Mr. Green send her there, and the sooner the better." 

He turned away from the sight upon the floor; but 
though he strove to speak carelessly, his face was bloodless 
as the face of a corpse. 

The Keverend Cyrus Green looked with grave, suspicious 
eyes for a moment at the leaden face of the speaker. 

" There is wrong and mystery about this," he thought 
— " a dark mystery of guilt. This woman is mad, but her 
wrongs have driven her mad, and you. Sir Jasper Kings- 
land, are her wronger. " 

" It shall be as you say. Sir Jasper," he said, alond; 
*' that is, if I find this poor creature has no friends. Are 
you aware whether she has any?" 

" I tell you I know nothing of her!" the baronet cried, 
a 



it 



■i 



lii 



3^ 



THE BARONET*S BRIDE. 



with fierce impatieuco. " Wliut should I know of such a 
wretcii as that?" 

" More tliau you dare tell, Sir Jasper Kingsland!'* cried 
a hli:h, ringing voice, us a young woiiuiii ruthed impetu- 
ously iiilo the churciiantl up the aisle. " Coward and liar! 
False, perjured \vrtt(!h! \ou are too white-livered a hound 
oven to tell the truth! "What should you know of such a 
wretch as that, forsooth! Double-dyed traitor and dastard! 
Look uie in the face, if you dare, and tell me you dou'l 
know her I'' 

Everyone shrunk in terror and dismtiy; Sir Jasper stood 
as a man might stand suddenly struck by lightning. And 
if looks were lightning, the blazing eyes of the young 
woman might havo blasted him v/here he stood. A tail 
and handsome young woman, with black eyes of fire, 
streaming, raven haii, and a brown gypsy face. 

" Who are you, in mercy's name?'' cried the Reverend 
Cyrus Green. 

The great black eyes turned with Hashing quickness 
upon him. 

" I am the daughter of this wretch, as your baronet 
yonder is 2>leascd to call my mad mother. Yes, 3Ir. Green, 
she is my molher. If you want to know vrho my father is, 
you had better ask Sir Jasper Kingslaud!" 

" It is false!" the baronet cried, the dead ./hite of in- 
tense terror changing suddenly to rushing crimson. " I 
know nothing of you or your father. I never set eyes on 
you befo'-e." 

" "Wait, wait, wait!" the Reverend Cyrus Green cried, 
imploringly. " For Heaven's sake, young woman, don't 
make a scene before all these gapiiig listeners. We will 
have your mother conveyed into the vestry until she re- 
covers; and if she ever recovers, no time is to be lost in at- 
tending to her. Sir Jasper, 1 think the child had better 
be sent home immediately. My lady will wonder at the 
delay.'' 

A faint wail from the infant lying in the nurse's arms 
seconded the suggcstioji. That feeble crv and the mention 
of his wife acted as a magic spell upon the baronet. 

" Your mad intruders have startled us into forgetting 
everything else. Proceed, nurse. Lady Helen, take my 
arm. Mr. Carlyon, see to Mildred. The child looks- 
frightened to death, and little wonder I" 



J 



I 



THE BARONETS BRIDE. 



,) 



I ft 



■t 



*:i 



" LilLk", iruleed!** sigUed Ludy IIoloii. '* 1 slmll not 
recover from the shock for i\ uioiith. It was like u scene 
in rt nii'Ioilrania — like a chapttr of a nonsation novel. And 
you kno.v that dreadful ortaLuic, Sh* .Jasper?" 

" 1 usod to know her,'' the baronet .said, with emphasis, 
" -JO many years ago that 1 had almost forgotten she ever 
exisud. She was always more or less mad, I fancy, and it 
seems lu-reditary. Her daiigliter — if daughter she be — 
aeenui as distraught as her mother." 

" And her name, Sir Jasper? You called her by some 
name, 1 think." 

" Zenith, I suppose. To tell the truth. Lady Helen," 
irying to laugh carelessly, " the woman is neither more nor 
less than a gypsy fortune-teller crazed by a villainous life 
and villainous liquor. But, for the sake of the days gone 
by, when she was young and pretty and told my fortune, 
I think I will go back and see what Mr. Green intends do- 
ing with her. 8iich crazy vagrants should not be allowed 
to go at large.'" 

The light tone was a ghastly failure, and the smile but 
a deaih's-head grin, lie placed Lady Helen in the car- 
riage — Mr. Carlyon aKsisted the nurse and little Mildred. 
Then Hir Jasper gave the order, *' Home," and the 
stately carriiioo of the Kingslands, with its emblazoned 
crest, whirled away in a cloud of dust. For an instant he 
stood looking after it. The smile faded, and his face black- 
ened with a bitter, vindictive scowl. 

" Curses on it!" he muttered between set teeth. " After 
all these years, are those dead doings to be flung in my 
face? I thought her deaci and gone; and lo! in the hour 
-of my triumph she rises as if from the grave to confound 
me. Her daughter, too! I never knew she had a child! 
Gooil heavei-ss! how these wild oats we sow in youth flour- 
ish and multiply with their bitter, bad fruit! I sowed 
mine broadcast, and a sweet harvest home 1 am likely to 
have!" 

He turned and strode into the vestry. On the floor the 
miserable woman lay, her eyes closed, her jaw fallen — the 
upturned face awfully corpse-like in the garish sunshine. 
By her side, supporting her head, the younger woman knelt, 
holding a glass of water to her lips. The Keverend Cyrus 
Grreen stood gravely looking on. 



i 



\ 



so 



THE IlAllONET'S BRIDE. 



i 



•' Js slic deiwl?" Sir Jasper askod, in a hard, strident 
voice. 

It wa^ 1.0 tliu clcr^'ynian lio Hpokc, but the girl looked 
florwly up, her bJack eyes gilLteriug, her tones like a scr- 

" ^ot (lead. Sir .Jasjtcr Kiiip;sland! No thanks to you 
for iti Murderer — as luuch a luurdciror as if you hud cut 
her tliroat — look oii her, and be proud of the ruin you have 
wrought!" 

" Silence, woman!" Mr. (Jreen ordered, imperiously. 
*' We will have none of your matl recrimiiuitious here. She 
is not dead, Sir Jasper, but she is dying, I thirds. 1'liis 
young woman wishes to remove her — whither, 1 know not 
—but it is simply impossible. That unfortunate creature 
will not be alive when to-morrow dawns.'' 

'What do you propose doing with her?" the baronet 
asked, steadily. 

" We will convey her to the sexton's house — it is very 
near. I have sent Dawson for a stretcher; he and Humph- 
reys will carry her. This young woman declines to give 
her name, or tell who she is, or where she lives." 

" Where I live is no altairof yours, if I can not take my 
mother there," the young woman answered, sullenly. 
" Who 1 am, you know. 1 told you 1 am this woman's 
daughter. " 

" And a gypsy, I take it?" said Mr. Green. 

*' You guess well, sir, but only half the truth. Half 
gypsy I am, and half gentlewoman. A mongrel, I sup- 
pose, that makes; and yet it is well to have good blood in 
one's veins, even on the father's side." 

There was a sneering euiphasis in her words, and the 
glittering, snaky black eyes gleamed like daggers on the 
baronet's face. 

But that proud face was set and rigid as stone now. He 
returixcd her look with a haughty stare. 

" It is a pity the whipping-post has been abolished," he 
said, harshly. " Your impertinence makes you a fit subject 
for it, mistress! Take care wo don't commit you to prison 
as a public vagrant, and teach that tongue of yours a lit- 
tb civility when addressing your betters. " 

" My betters!" the girl hissed, in a fierce, sibilant whis- 
per. " Why, yes, I suppose a daughter should look upon 
a father in that light. As to the whipping-post and prison. 



I 






THE BARONETS BUTDF. 



37 



He 

Mie 



try It at your peril! Try it, if you dare, Sir Jnsper Kings- 

She rose up nn<l eonfroutod liiin uutii he quailoil. 

Jiefore lie eould speak the door ojionod, and J)a\vsoii en- 
tered witli the stretcher. 

*' Lay her upon it and remove her at once,'* the rector 
said, very ghul of tiio interruption. " Here, llumphreya, 
tiiis side. Gently, my men — gently. ]]o very careful on 
the way.'* 

The two men placed the seemingly lifeless form of Zenith 
on the stretcher and bore her carefully away. 

The daughter Zara followed, her eyes never quitting 
that rigid face. 

" She will not live until to-morrow morning,'' the rec- 
tor said; " and it is better so, i)Oor soul! She is evidently 
hopelessly insane." 

*• And the daughter appears but little better. By the 
Hvay, Mr. Green, Lady Kiogsland desires me to fetch you 
back to dinner.'* 

The rector bowed. 

*' Her ladyship is very good. Has your carriage gone? 
X will order out the pony-phaeton, if you like." 

Ten minutes later the two gentlemen were bowling along 
the pleasant country road leading to the Court. It was a 
very silent drive, for the baronet sat moodily staring at 
vacancy, his hat pulled over his brow, his mouth set iu 
hard, wordless pain. 

" They will tell Olivia," he was thinking, gloomily. 
** What will she say to all this?" 

But his fears seemed groundless. Lady Kingsland 
treated the matter with cool indiU'erence. To be sure, she 
had not heard quite all. A madwoman had burst into the 
church, had terrified Lady Helen pretty nearly to death 
with her crazy language, and had tried to tear away the 
baby. That was the discreet story my lady heard, and 
•vhich she was disposed to treat with calm surprise. Baby 
was safe, and it had ended in nothing; the madwoman 
was being properly cared for. Lady Kingsland quietly dis- 
missed the little incident altogether before the end of din- 
ner. 

The hours of the evening wore on — very long hours to 
the lord of Kingsland Court, seated at the head of his 



l 



ni 






1 


1 ■• 


j 




1 
1 

■ 


1 ■ 



88 



tuv. i?a]{ok"et r tirtde. 



table, (lispt'ii.'ilii;.^ liis lioHjiitiilitioM aiul trying' to listen to 
till) loii;,' sl.oi'ii'S of Mr. ('iirlyoii suul tho rector. 

ft u';is \vor.^o in the drawin/^-rooni, with the li^'lils mid 
thu mu-i'', Jind liia atnlely wii'i' ut the iiiiv?io, and Laily 
Heli'ii at iiid side, prattling' with little Nfildred over a piio 
ol' on^'iavlnijs. All Ihe time, in a iialC-distracJted sort of 
way, his thoiighls were wandering to (ho si-xfon'« <!ottngo 
and t,lie w^mian dving therein — tho vvdnum he had thought 
ileail years ago — dying there in desolation and misery — and 
liero tho Ijoih'B sjumed strung on roses. And onee he iiad 
loved Zonilh. 

It wd^ all over at last. Tho guests wore gone, tho baby 
baronrt sle[)t in his crib, and Lady Kingsland had gone to 
iier (;hand)er. Uufc >Sir Jaspor lingered still — waiuhiring 
up and down the lotig drawing-room like a restless ghost. 

A su'eet-voieeil clock oji the mantel chimed twelve. Mre 
its last cliinKi had sounded a sleepy valet stood in tho door- 
way. 

" A me^'senger for you, Sir rJas])er- ''^iitby tho Tievcrond 
Mr. (Jre(ui. Here — come in." 

'riius invoked, Mr. Dawson entered, pulling his forelook. 

"■ Pairion, he sent me, vau: Sho be a-doying, she be." 

Ho knew instantly who the man meant<. Ho had ex- 
pecti d and waited for this. 

'' And she wi^dies to see me?'* 

" 81u! calls for you all the time, zur. Sho be a-doying 
uneonimon hard. Parson bid me come and toll *eo. " 

" Very well, my man," tho baronet said. '" That will 
do. r vv'ill go at once. Thoniiis, order my horse, and 
I'eteh my liding-uloak and gloves." 

Th'j valet stared in astonishment, but went to obey. Ifc 
was snmeilung altogether without precedent, this qiioor 
proceeding on the part of his master, and, taken in con- 
neoLiari vvith that other odd event in church, looked re- 
markably su-spii-ious. 

The idght was dark and starlesa, and the wind blew iraw 
and bleak as tho baronet tlashed down the avenue and out 
into tho high-road. ITe ahuiK-t wondered at him self for 
complying with the dying woman'^ desire, but. same in- 
ward impulse quite beyond his control seemed driving him 
on. 

Ho rode rapidly, and a quarliOr of an hour brought him 
to the sexton's oottago. A feeble light glimmored from ^.he 



THK IJARONKTS IIIUDr. 



39 



vviml')".v out into tlie [)itc'li bliiukiuvs.s of tlio ni^'lit. A mo- 
moiiL hitur and ho hLooiI witliin, in tlii! prosuiiot.« of tlio djr- 



III 



/^' 



'riitt liovcrond Cynia (freon t^iit by tho tublo, a JVihIo in 
iii.i hiiiiil. Kuei^liiig by the bistlsidc, hur face i^fJiuKLly whito, 
hur biiniiiiij; bbuik ovivs dry aivd liurlcss, wiis tbo yoimj.j 
vvutiKUi. And liko u d'Jiid wujiiuii ulvo;iiiy, BtroLciied on tiio 
boil, luy Zijuitii. 

lUit sill) was not dcail. At tho sound of tlio opcMiing 
iloor, ;it tbo souuil of his out niiiu'c, sho opened lu'i oyorf, 
dulliii:^' fast in doaih, uiul lixud tiicin with u hungry ghiro 
on ISn* .)asj)ur. 

*' I Ivnovv you would como," sho said, in a liusky wliis- 
pur. " You lUire not Htay away I Tlio spirit of tho dying 
Zmiitli dr'>vo you iitn-i; in i-'j)iLo of yourself, ('onio ntaror 
— ni-aror! Wir .his[)or Ivingsiand, don't hover aloof. Onco 
you could novor bo ni*ar enough. Ah, I waa young and 
fair then! I'm old and ugly now. (Jomo iiuarcr, for I 
can not spuak aloud, and listen. Do you know why 1 have 
sont for you?" 

Ill) had apjiroached tho bedside. Sho caught hi;^ lumd 
and htdd it iu a viae-like oluteh, her lieree eyes burning 
npou his faoe. 

•' No," ho said, recoiling. 

" To givo you my dying malediction — to curse you with 
my latest breath! I hate you, Sir Jasper Kingsland, falsest 
of all mankind! and if tlie dead can return and torment 
the living, then do you beware of mel'' 

She spoke in panting gasps, the death-rattle sounding in 
her skinny throat. Shocked and scandalized, the rector 
interposed: 

*' My good woman, don't — for pity's sake, don't say such 
horribit) things!" 

But she nevia* heeded him. The glazing eyes glared 
with tigerish hate upon the man beside her, even through 
the tilms of death. 

" 1 hate you!" she said, with a last effort. " 1 die hat- 
ing yoi., and I curse you with a dying woman's cnr.;e! May 
your life be a life of torment and misery and remorse! 
May your son's life bo blighted and ruined! May he be- 
come au outcast among men! May sin and shame follow 
him forever, and all of hi-, i-bhorred rate!" 

Her voice died away, lihe glared helplessly up from the 



II 



40 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



pillow, unable to speak. A deep, stern, terrible *' Amen!" 
came from her daughter's lips; then, with a spasm, she 
half leaped from the bed, and fell back with a gurgling 
cry — dead ! 



n C 



he is gone!" said the rector, with a shudder. 
'* Heaven have mercy on her sinful soul!'* 

The baronet staggered back from the bed, his face ut-- 
terly livid. 

" I never saw a more horrible aight!" continued the 
Reverend Cyrus. *' 1 never heard such horrible words! 
No wonder it has unmanned you. Sir Jasper. Pray sit 
down and drink this." 

He held out a glass of water. Sir Jasper seized and 
drank it, his brain reeling, for a moment or two quite un- 
able to stand. 

With stoical calm, Zara had arisen and closed the dead 
woman's eyes, folded the hands, straightened the stiffening 
limbs, and composed the humble covering. She had no 
tears, she uttered no cry — her face was stern as stone. 

*' Better stay in this ghastly place no longer, Sir Jasper," 
the rector suggested. " You look completely overcome. 
I will see that everything is properly done. We will bury 
her to-morrow." 

As a man walks in a dreadful dream. Sir Jasper arose, 
quitted the room, mounted his horse, and rode away. 

One dark, menacing glance Zara shot after him ; then 
she sat stonily down by her dead. All that night, all next 
day, Zara kept her post, neither eating, nor drinking, nor 
sleeping. Dry and tearless, the burning blac!: eyes fixed 
themselves on the dead face, and never left it. 

When they put the dead woman in the rude board coffin, 
she offered no resistance. Calmly she watched them screw 
the lid down — calmly she saw them raise it on their shoul- 
ders and bear it away. Without a word or tear she arose, 
folded her cloak about her, and followed them to the 
church -yard. 

It was late in the afternoon when the interment was over 
— a bleak and gusty afternoon. A sky of lead hung low 
over a black earth, and the chill blast shuddered ghostly 
through the trees. 

One by one the stragglers departed, and Zara was left 
alone by the new-made grave. No, not quite alone, for 
through the bleak twilight fluttered the tall, dark figure of 



I > 



THE PARONET's r.RTDE. 



41 






T; man toward lier. Slie lifted her gloomy eyes and recog- 
nized liim. 

"You come, Sir Jasper Kingsland," she said, slowly, 
*• to see the last of your work. You come to gloat over 
your dead victlr?i, and exult that she is out of your way. 
But I tell you to beware! Zenith in her grave will be a 
thousand times more terrible to you than Zenith ever was 
alive!" 

The baronet looked at her with a darkly troubled face. 

" Why do you hate me so?'' he said. " "Whatever wrong 
1 did her, I never wronged you.'' 

' ' You have done me deadly wrong ! My mother's wrongs 
are mine, and here, by her grave, I vow vengeance on you 
and yours! Her dying legacy to me was her hatred of you, 
and I will pay the old debt with double interest, my noble, 
haughty, titled father!" 

She turned with the last words and sped away like an 
evil spirit, vanishing in the gloom among the graves. 



CHAPTER VI. 

TWO DYING BEQUESTS. 

The midsummer night was sultry and still. The dark- 
ness was like the darkness of Egypt, lighted every now and 
then by a vivid flash of lightning, from what quarter of 
the heavens no man knew. The inky sky was invisible — 
no breath of air stirred the terrible calm. The midsum- 
mer night was full of dark and deadly menace. 

Hours ago a fierce and wrathful sunset had burned itself 
out on a brassy sky. The sun, a h;rid ball of fire, had 
sunk in billows of blood-red cloud, and pitch blackness 
had fallen upon earth and sky and sea. Everything above 
and below breathea of speedy and awful tempest, but the 
midnight was drawing near, and the storm had not yet 
burst. 

And on this black June night Sir Jasper Kingsland lay 
on his stately bed, dying. 

The lofty chamber was but dimly lighted. It was a 
grand, vast room, paneled in black oak, hung with somber 
draperies, and carpeted in rich dark Brussels. 

Three wax candles made white spots of light in the sol' 
emn gloom: a wood-lire burned, or rather smoldered, in 
the wide hearth, for the vast rooiws were chilly even iu 



i 1 



i 3 



43 



THE BAP.O'N'ET'S BUTDE. 



midsnmmftr; but neitlier fire-light nor candle-light, could 
iJlumino the ghostly depths of the chamber. Shadows 
L'roH(!hcd like evil things in the diinky corners, and round 
the bed, only darker shadows among the rest, knelt the 
dying man's family — wife and daughter and son. And 
hovering aloof, with pale, anxious faces, stood the rector, 
the lieverend Cyrus Green, and Dr. Parker Godroy, of the 
village. 

TJiu last hope was over, the last prayer had been said, 
the last faint breaths fluttered between the dying lips. 
"With the tide going out on the shore below, the baronet's 
life was ebbing. 

" Olivia!" 

Lady Kingsland, kLeeling in tearless grief by her hus- 
band's side, bent over him to catch the faint whisper. 

" My dearest, I am here. What is it?" 

" Where is Everard?" 

Everard Kingsland, a fair-haired, blue-eyed, handsome 
boy, lifted his head from the o])posite side. It was a liand- 
aome, high-bred face — the ancestral face of all the Kings- 
lands — that of this twelve-year-old boy. 

" Here, papa!" 

The weak head turned slowly: the eyes, dulling in death, 
fixed themselves on that fail-, youthful face in a gaze of 
deathless love. 

" My boy! my boy! whom I have loved so well — whc»m 
I have shielded so tenderly. My precious, oidy son, 1 must 
leave you at last!" 

The hoy stilled a sob as he bent and kissed the ice-cold 
(ace. Young as lie u'as, he had the gravity and self-re- 
prc3>ion of manhood already. 

" I have loved you better than my own life," the faint, 
whispering voice went on. " J would have died to save 
you an hour of pain. 1 have kept the one secret of my 
life well — a secret that has blighteil it berore its time — but 
1 can not face the dread unknown and bear my secret with 
me. On my death-bed 1 must tdl all, and n)y darling boy 
must bear the blow." 

Everard Kiigsland listened to his father's huskily mur- 
mured words in boyish wonderment. What secret was he 
talking of? He glanced across at his mother, and to his 
increased surprise saw her palo cheeks suddenly Hushed 
and her calm eyes kindling. 



THE BAR( net's rRTDK 



** No living soul Ims orer heard from me what 1 must 
tell you to-night, my Everard — not even your mother. 
Do not leave me, Olivia. You, ioo, must knou' all, tluxt 
you may guard your aon — 'jiat you may pity und forgive 
me. Perhaps I have err? J in ke.^ping any seen t I'rom 
3'ou, but the truth was too horrib.e to tell. 'Ihore havn 
been times when the i. bought of it noarlv drove me mad. 
How, then, could I tell the v.ife I loved — the son I idolize! 
— this cruel and ehamefid thing .^'' 

The glazing eyes rolled in piteous appeal from one to 
the other. The youthful Everard looked eimply bcwih 
dered — Lady Kingsland excited, expeotant, flush:''.!. 

She gently wiped the clammy brow and held a reviving 
cordial to the livid lips. 

" My dearest, do not agitate yourself," she raid. " V/n 
will listen to all you have to say, and love you nojie thn 
less, let it be what it will.*' 

" My own dear vdfe! half the Eccrct you know alrcad}. 
You remember the astrologer — the prediction?'* 

'* Surelv. You have never been the ^amc man since 
that fatal night. It is of the prediciioti you wcuM speak:"" 

" It is. i must tell my son. I must warn him ot the 
unutterable horror to come. Oh, my boy I my boy: what 
will become of you when you h'arn your hon-ible Joonir" 

" Papa,** the lad said, softly, but growing very white, 
" I don*t understand — wliat horror? »^ hat di >m? Tell 
me, and see how I will bear it. 1 am u Kingsland, you 
know, and the son of a daring race.** 

"That is my brave boy I Send them out of the room, 
Olivia — priest, doctor, Mildred, and all — tUen come close 
to mo, close, close, for my voice is failing — and listen.'* 

Lady Kingsland arose — fair and statei;*' still as twelve 
years before, and eminently self-sustained in this trying 
hour. In half a minute she had lurncd out rector, i)hy- 
sician, and daughter, and kn«jlt again by that bed of deati). 
The lightning glittered athwart the gloom; the warniug 
moan of the coming storm, heard in the mighty voice of 
the sea, sounded terribly distinct, in that eilent room, and, 
grimly waiting, Death stood in the'r midst. 

"The first part of my story, Olivia,** began the dying 
man, " belongs to you. Years before I knew you, when 1 
was a young, hot-headed, ra.-Jily impulsive boy, traveling 
Ml S^jain, 1 fell in with a gang of wandering gypsies. I 



44 



THE BAROKET'S bride. 



it > 



r 



11: 



! 



Imd been robbed and wounded by mountain briganda; 
tliese gypsies found me, took me to their tents, cared for 
me, cured mo. But long after I was well I lingered with 
thein, for the fairest thing the sun shone on was my black- 
eyed nurse. Zenith. We were both so young and so fiery- 
blooded, so — Ah! what need to go over the old, old 
grounds? 1'liere was one hour of mad, brief bliss, parting 
and forgetf ulness. I forgot. Life was a long, idle sum- 
mer holiday to m^e. But she never forgot — never forgave! 
You remember the woman, Olivia, who burst into the 
church on the day of our boy^s christening — the woman 
who died in the sexton's house? That woman was Zenith 
— old and withered, and maddened by her wrongs — that 
woman who died cursing me and mine. A girl, dark and 
fierce, and terrible as herself, stood by her to the last, 
lingered at her grave to vow deathless revenge — her daugh- 
ter and mine!" 

The faint voice ceased an instant. Lady Kingsland had 
drawn back into the shadow of the curtains, and her face 
could not be seen. The fluttering spirit rallied, and re- 
sumed : 

" 1 have reason to know that daughter was married. I 
have reason to know she had a child — whether boy or girl 
I can not tell. To that child the inheritance of hatred 
and revenge will fall; that child, some inward prescience 
tells me, will wreak deep and awful vengeance for the 
past. Beware of the grandchild of Zenith, the gypsy — be- 
ware, Olivia, for yourself and your son!" 

There was a pause; then — 

" Is this allr ' Olivia said, in a constrained, hard voice. 

" All I have to say to you — the rest is for Everard. My 
son, on the night of your birth an Eastern astrologer came 
to this house and cast your horoscope, lie gave that 
horoscope to me at day-dawn and departed, and from that 
hour to this I have neither seen nor heard of him. Before 
reading your future in the stars he looked into my palm 
and told me the past — told me the story of Zenith and her 
wrongs — told n)o what no one under heaven but myself 
knew. My boy, the revelation of that night has blighted 
my life — broken my heart! The unutterable horror of 
your f utiu-e has brought my gray hairs in sorrow to the 
grave. Oh, my son! what will become of you when I am 
gone?" 






1 



'c< 



THE BAKONET S BRIDE. 



45 



M^he boy looked in blank consternation at the ghastly, 
oo.uvulsod face. The dying voice was ahnost inaudible 
now. The breath came in panting gasps. The clock was 
near the stroke of midnight. The tide was all but at its 
lowest ebb. 

" What was it, papa?" the lad asked. " What has the 
future in store for me?" 

A convulsive spasm distorted the livid face; tho eye- 
balls rolled, the death-rattle sounded. With a smothered 
cry of terror Lady Kingsland lifted the agonized head i-n 
her arms. 

" Quick, Jasper — the horoscope! Where?" 

" My safe — study — secret spring — at back! Oh, God, 
have mercy — " 

The clock struck sharply — twelve. A vivid blaze of 
lambent lightning lighted the room; the awful death-rat- 
tle sounded once more. 

" Beware of Zenith's grandchild!" 

He spoke the words aloud, clear and distinct, and never 
spoke again. With that warning on his lips, his head fell 
heavily back; he turned his glazed eyes on the son he 
loved, and so — died. 

* ^j ^# ^^ ^A ^A ^A 

»^ »j% 9jm ^p ^^ ^^ 

Many miles away from Kingsland Court that same 
sultry, oppressive midsummer night a little third-rate 
theater on the Surrey side of London was crowded to over- 
llowing. There was a grand spectacular drama, full of 
transformation scenes, fairies, demons, spirits of air, fire, 
and water; a brazen orchestra blowing forth, and steam, 
and orange-peel, and suffocation generally. 

Foremost among all the fairies and nymphs, noted for 
the shortness of her filmy skirts, the supple beauty of her 
shapely limbs, her incomparable dancing, and her dark, 
bright beauty, flashed La Sylphine before the foot-lights. 

The best dmii^cuse in the kingdom, and the prettiest, 
and invested with a magic halo of romance. La Sylphine 
shone like a meteor among lesser stars, and brought down 
thunders of applause every time she appeared. 

The little feet twinkled and Hashed; the long, dark 
waves of hair floated in a shining banner behind her to the 
tiny waist; the pale, upraised face — the eyes ablaze like 
bhick stars! Oh, surely La Sylphine was the loveliest 
thing, that hot June night, the gas-light shone on! 



^ 




4G 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



The fuiry spectacle was over — the green drop-cui'taia 
I'ell. La feylpliuio Ijad smiled and dipi)ed an'l kissed 
hands to thundering bravos fur the last time that night, 
and now,, behind the scenes, was rapidly exchanging tins 
&pangle3 and gossamer df fairydoin for the shabby and 
faded merino shawl and dingy straw hat ol; every-day lif'3. 

"You danced better than over to-night. Miss Monti,'' 
a tiill demon in tail and horns said, sauntering up to her. 
"Them there jiretty feet of; your'u will make your fort- 
une yet, and beat Fanny j'^llsler!" 

" .Nut to mention her pretty face," said a brother liend, 
removing his horrible mask. " Her fortune's made 
already, if she's a mind to take it. There's a gay young 
city swell a-waiting at the wings to see you home. Miss 
Monti." 

La Hylphine laughed. 

" Ls it Mayiuird, the banker's son?" she asked. 

The second demon nodded. 

" Then 1 must escape by the side entrance. When he 
gets tired waiting, Mr. Smithers, give him La Sylphine's 
compliments, and let him go." 

She laughed again, soft and silvery, glided past the 
demons down a dark and winding staircase, and out into 
the noisy, lighted street. 

The girl paused an instant under a street-lamp — she- 
was only a girl — fifteen or sixteen at most, though very 
tall, with a Siright, fearless, precocious look — then draw- 
ing her shawl closely round her slender figure, she tUtted 
rapidly awa}^ 

The innumerable city clocks tolled heavily — eleven. 
The night was pitch-dark; the sheet-lightning blazed across 
the blackness, and now and then a big drop felL Still the 
girl sped on, swiftly, surely, looking neither to the right 
nor left, until she reached her destination. 

It was the poorest and vilest quarter of the great city — 
among resking smells, and horrible sounds, and disgusting 
sights. The house she entered v/as tottering to decay — a 
dreawlul den by day and by night, thronged with the very 
scum and olTal of the London streets. Up and up a long 
stair-way she fiew, psuu^ed at a door on the third landing, 
opened it, and went in. 

It was a miserable room — all one could have expected 
from the street and the house. There was a black grate. 



till) 



1 



THE BAEONET'S BPtTDE. 



47 



one or two broken clmirs, a btUterctl table, and a wretched 
bed in the corner. On the b'^d a \v(»man — the ;.^h:i.'tly 
skeleton of a woman — hiy dyiiitj. A ikutering tuliow cau- 
dle, iluruing wildly, lighted the miserable scene. 

The opening of the door and the entrance of La Sylphine 
aroused the woman from the stn])or into which 5;he had 
fallen — the stupor that precedes death. She opened her 
spectral eyes and looked ca^•erly around. 

"My Suibeam! is it th-ni?" 

"It is 1, mother — at la.^t. I could come no sooner. 
The ballet was very long to-night.*' 

The weird eyes of the sick woman lighted up w'ltii a 
sudden flame. 

" And my Sunbeam was bravocd, and encored, and 
crowned with flowers, and admired beyond all, was ^he 
not?'' 

" Yes, mother; but never mind that. How are you to- 
night?" 

" Dying, my own." 

The dansi'um fell on her knees with a shrill, sharj) cry. 

" No, mother — no, no! Not dying! Very ill, very 
weak, very low, but not dying. Oh, not dying!"' 

" l)ying, my daughter!" the sick woman said, solemn- 
ly. "I count my life by minutes now; I heard the city 
cloclvs strike eleven; 1 counted the strokes, for, my Sun- 
beam, it is the last hour poor Zara, thy mother, will ever 
hear on earth." 

Tlie ballot-dancer covered her face, with a low, despair- 
ing cry. The dying mother, wil.h a painful eiiort, lifted 
her own skeleton hand and removed those of the girl. 

" Weep not, but listen, carisi^imii. 1 have much to say 

to thee before I go; 1 feared to die before you came; and 

icven in my grave I could not rest 'vith the wonls 1 must 

/say unsaid. I have a legacy to leave thee, my daughter." 

" A legacy?" 

The girl oj)ened her great black eyes in wide suri»rise. 

" Even so. Not of lands, or h^,u^^es, cr gold, or honors, 
but something a thousand-fold greater — an inheritance of 
hatred and revenge!" 

'*My mother!" 

" Listen to me, my daughter, and my dying malediction 
be upon thee if thou fultlUest not the trust. Thou hast 
heard the name of Kingslaud?"' 



^f> 



: 



>h 



\ n 



m 



46 



THE baronet's BRTD-E. 



La Sylpliine's ico darkoncd vindictively. 

" Ay, iiiy jjiotlior — often; from my father ere he died — 
from thee, since. Was it not his hist couimund to me — 
this liutred of their evil race? Did I not ])romise him on 
his death-bod, four years ago? J)oe3 my mother thiuii I 
forget?" 

** That is my brave daughter. You know the cruel 
story of treachery and wrong done thy grandmother. 
Zenith — you know the prediction your father made to my 
father. Sir Jasper Kingsland, on the niglit of his son's 
birth. Bo it thine, my brave daughter, to see that pre- 
diction fulfilled. '' 

A slight shiver shook her slender frame; her dark face 
blanched. 

" You ask a terrible thing, my mother,'* she said, slow- 
ly; " but 1 can refuse you nothing, and 1 abhor them all. 
I promise — the prediction shall be fulfilled!" 

" My own! my own! That son is a boy of twelve now 
— be it yours to find him, and work the retribution of the 
gods. Your grandmother, your father, your mother, look 
to you from their graves for vengeance. Woe to you if 
you fail!" 

" I shall not fail!" the girl said, solemnly. *' I can die, 
but I can not break a promise. Vengeance shall fall, 
fierce and terrible, upon the heir ol Kingsland, and mine 
shall be the hand to inflict it. 1 swear it by your death- 
bed, mother, and I will keep my oath!" 

The mother pressed her hand ; she was too far gone for 
words. The film of death was in her eyes, its gray shadow 
on her face. 8he strove to speak — only a husky rattle 
came; there was a quick, dreadful convwlsion from head 
to foot, then an awful calm. 

Within the same hour, with miles between them, Sir 
Jasper Kingsland and Zara, his outcast daughter, died. 



* 



* 



* 



* 



* 



The dawn of another day crept silently over the Devon 
liill-tops as Lady Kingsland arose from her husband's 
death-bed — a sullen day of wet and gloom; a leaden sky, 
a drenched earth; no sound to be heard save the ceaseless 
drip, drip of the melancholy rain. 

White, and stark, and rigid, the late lord of Kingsland 
Court lay in the awful majlesty of death. 



THE BAUONfJT'S BlJlDE. 



49 



I 

y 

\ 

t 



Tho doctor, the rector, the nurso, sat, pulo and sonilicr 
watchers, in the death-room. More than an hour before 
the youthful baronet had been sent to his room, worn out 
with liis night's watching. 

It was the IJeverend Cyrus Green who urged my lady 
now to follow him. 

" You look utterly exhausted, my dear Lady Kings- 
land,'' he said. " Pray retire and endeavor to sleep. You 
are not able to endure such fatigue. '' 

Tho lady rose wearily, very, very pale, but tearLss. 

*' 1 am worn out," she said. " I believe I will lie down, 
but 1 feel as though I should never sleep again." 

She quitted the room, but not to seek her own. Outside 
the death-chamber she paused an instant, and her haggai'd 
face lighted suddenly u^i, as a vase might with a light 
within. 

" Now is my time," she said, under her breath. " A 
few hours more and it may be too late. His safe, he said 
— the secret spring!" 

She flitted away, pallid and guilty looking, into Sir Jas- 
jier's study. It was deserted, of course, and there in tho 
corner stood the grim iron safe. Lady Kiugsland locked 
the door, drew a bunch of keys from her pocket, and aj)- 
proached it. 

"It is well I took the keys from under the pillow be- 
fore those curious gapers came in. Now for the secrets of 
tlie dead! No fortune-telling jugglery shall blight my 
darling boy's life while I can help it. He is as super- 
stitious as his father. ' 

With considerable difficulty she opened the safe, pulled 
forth drawer after drawer, until the grim iron back was 
exposed. 

" The secret spring is here," she muttered. " Surely, 
surely, I can find it. " 

P^or many minutes she searched in vain; then her glance 
fell on a tiny steel knob inserted in a corner. She pressed 
this with all her might, confident of success. 

Kor was she deceived; the knob moved, the iron slid 
slowly back, disclosing a tiny hidden drawer in what ap- 
peared the solid frame. 

Lady Kingsland barely repressed a cry as she saw the 
paper, and by its side something wrapped in silver tissue. 
Greedily she snatched Jwth out, pressed back the knob^ 




50 



Tnii hakonkt's bride. 



Jockcfl Ihe aafu, stole out of the study and uj) to her own 

lOnni. 

ranting with hor haste, my Judy sunk into a seat, with 
her trcusurca eagerly clutched. A moment recovered her; 
then .she took up the little 2):ircel wrapped in the silver 
})Up(.'r. 

" lie said notliing of this," she thought. " What oan 
itlK'?'-' 

She tore oil' the wrapping. As it fell to the tloor, a 
long tross of .silky black liair fell with it, and whe hold in 
hur liaiid a miniatiue painted on ivory. A girliih I'ace of. 
exquisite buauty, unsky as the face of an Indian ciucen, 
looked up at her, fresh and bright as thirty years bofore. 
No need to looii; at the words on tho reverse — " My ])eer- 
less Zenith *' — to know who it was; the wiJ!e*s jealousy told 
her at tlie lirst glance. 

" And all thiv-e years lie has kept this/' she said, be- 
tween liLM- set tooth, '* while he protended ho loved only 
inel ' My })Lcrless Zenith!" Yes, she is bcuutiiful as the 
fablod houris of the Mu-sulman's 2)aradise. Well, I will 
keep it in my turn. Who knows what end it may serve 

yet?'^ 

Who, indeed? 8ha picked \\]} tho tress of blue-black 
hair, and enveloped all in the silver paper once more. 
Then sho lifted the folded document, and looked, darkly at 
the superscription: 

" Horoscope of the Ileir of Kingslaud. '* 

" Wliich the heir of Kingsland shall never see," she 
said, grimly unfolding it. " Now for this mighty secret.'^ 

{She just glanced at; the mystic symbols, the cabalistic 
signs aud figures, and turned to the other side. There, 
beautifully written, in long, clear letters, she saw her sou's 
fate. 

The morning wore on — noon came; the house was as 
still as a tomb. Jiosine, my lady's maid, with a cuji of tea, 
venturad to tap at her ladyship's door. There was no 
respon:^e. 

" She sleeps," thought Rosine, and turned the handle. 

But at the thre.shoid she 2)aused in wild alarm. No, 
my lady did not ileep. She sat in her chair, uj^right and 
ghastly as a galvanized eorpae, a written paper closely 



' 



THK iJAICUNETW liltlDE. 



dl 



cliitt'hod in her hand, uud a Juuk oX white horroi frozou oa 
her face. 



}} 



CHAl'TEU VJI. 

AFTER T i: K \ E A R S . 

" I HAVE said it, uiul 1 mean it; tlioy ought to know me 
well eiiouicli by Uii.s linju, (iotlfioe. I'd trans])ort ovory 
it»;ui of them, Uiu poaching'; si-oiiiidrcls, if 1 could! 'J'oll 
that villain Dick Oafkly that tho iiryt timo 1 catch him at 
his old triclvH ho shall follow tho brother ho makea such a 
howling' tdxnit, anil share hU futo. '' 

Sir .riverard Kin;^-.sl;UKl was tiio speaker. Ito stood with 
ono hand, whito and shapely as a lady's, resting on the 
glossy neck of hir^ bay lioroe, his fair, handsome face. 
flushed with aiiyer, turned upon his gamekeeper. 

There was an impei-ious ring in his voice, an imporioua 
fksh in his steel-blue eyes, that showed how accustomed 
he was to command — how unaccustomed to any power save 
his own. 

Potcr (jodsoe, the sturdy gamekeeper, standing before 
his young nuister, hat in hand, looked up deprecatingly. 

" He takes it very hard. Sir Everard, that you sent his 
brother to Worrel Jail. His missis was sick, and two of 
the children had tho measles, and Will Darkly he'd boeo 
out o' work, and they was poor as poor. So ho turns tc 
and snares the rabbits, and—-*' 

" Godsoe, are you trying to excuse this couvic>€d 
poacher? Is that what you stop^^ed me here to say**'' 
asked the baronet, angrily. 

"I beg your pardon, Sir Everard; I only wanted to 
warn you — to put you on your gunrd — " 

He stopped confusedly, as the fair Saxon face of iiis 
master grew darker and darker. 

" To warn me — to put me on my guard? What do you 
mean, fellow? Has that villainous poacher dared to 
threaten me?'' 

' Not in my hearing, sir; but others say so. And he's 
a dark, vindictive brute; and ho swore a solemn oath, they 
say, when his brother went to Worrel Jail, to be revenged 
upon you. And so. Sir Everard, begging your pardon for 
the freedom, I thought as how you was likely to be out 



J 



■'; i 



52 



TriK dakonkt's lUiH)!:. 



late to-ni^ht, coming liomi) from my lorcrs, and as Brith, 
low Wood is lonosomo and diirk — " 

" That will do, fJodtsoe!" Uio young baronot interrupt, 
cd, haughtily. " You moan wolj, J daro «uy, and 1 ovor- 
look your ])resumption this tinio; but nover prolTur advico 
to me again. As for J)arkly, he had bettor keej) out of 
my way. I'll horsewliip him within an inch of his life 
the first time 1 see him, and send him to make acquaint- 
ance with the liorse-pond afterward." 

lie vaulted lightly into the saddle as ho s})oke. Tall 
and slender, and somewhat ell'eminato in his liandsomo 
youth, he yet looked a gallant cavalier enough aatrklo hi» 
bay thorough-bred. 

The brawny gamekeeper stood gazing after him as h» 
ambled down the leafy avenue, a grim smile on his suu- 
burned face. 

'* His father's son," ho said; " the proudest gentleman 
in Devonshire, and the most headstrong. You'll horse- 
whip Dick Darkly, Sir Everard! Why, he could take you 
with one hand by the waist-band, antl lay you low in the 
kennel any day he liked! And he'll do it, too!" muttered 
Godsoe, shaking his head and turning slowly away. " You 
won't be warned, and you won't take precaution, and you 
won't condescend to be afeard, and you'll como to grid 
afore you know it." 

The gamekeeper disappeared in the plantation, and tho 
youthful baronet rode out through liis own lofty entrance 
gates into the pleasant high-road beyond. 

The misty autumn twilight lay like a veil of silver blue 
over the peaceful English landscape; a cool breeze swej)t 
up from the sea over the golden downs and distant hills, 
and as Sir Everard rode along through the village, the 
cloud left his face, and a tender, dreamy look came in its 
place. 

" She will be present, of course," he thought. " I won- 
der if I shall find her as I left her last? She is not the 
kind that play fast and loose, my stately, uplifted Lady 
Louise. How queenly she looked at the reception last 
night in those velvet robes and the Carteret diamonds! — 
'queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls.' She is my 
elder by three round years at least, but she is stately as a 
princess, and at twenty-five preserves tho ri2)e bloom of 
eighteen. She is all that is gracious when we meet, and 



THT: nAKONETS imiDE. 



08 



my niotlior Ims sot lior liom-t uj)on tlio mutch. I liQve half 
u mind to ])i'(HK)ao thiH very night. " 

Thoro wuH no rupturo in tho yomifj man's mind ut the 
thoiiglit. Ilia blootl Howod coolly und his pulses boat 
calmly whilo ho turned tho tender subject over in hid 
mind; anil he was only tvvo-and-twenty. 

She was an earl's daughter, this stately Lady Louise, 
but so very impovei-ished an earl that the young Devon- 
shire baronet, with liis ancient name and his long rent-roll, 
was a most desirably brilliant match. 

She was down on a visit to her brother. Lord Carteret» 
and had made :i dead sot at Sir Kvcrard Kingsland from 
the hour she had met him first. He was on his way to 
Lord Carteret's now. There was a dinner-party, and he 
was an honored guest; and Lady Louise was brilliant, iu 
the family diamonds and old point lace, once more. 

She was in the drawing-room when he entered — hei* 
stately head regally uplifted in the midst of a group ot 
less magnificent demoiselles — a statuesque blonde, with 
abundant ringlets of flaxen lightn^iss, eyes of turquoiw 
blue, and a determined mouth and chin. 

Sir Everard paid his respects to his host and hostess, an<3 
sought her side at once. 

" Almost late," she said, with a brilliant, welcoming 
smile, giving him her dainty little hand; " and Ceorgo 
Grosvenor has been looking this way, and pulling his mus- 
tache and blushing redder than the carnations in his but- 
ton-hole. Ho wants to take me in to dinner, poor fellow, 
and he hasn't the courage to do it." 

*' With your kind ])ermission. Lady Louise, I will savo 
him the trouble," answered Sir Everard Kingsland. 
" (jrosvonor is not singular in his wish, but 1 never gave 
him credit for so much good taste before." 

Lady Louise laughed good-naturedly. Those pearly 
teeth lighted up her face wonderfully, and she was very 
fond of showing them. 

" Mr. Grosvenor is more at home in the hunting-field 
than the drawing-room, 1 fancy. Apropos, Sir Everard, 
1 ride to the meet to-morrow. Of course you will bo pres- 
ent on your ' bonny bay ' to display your prowess?" 

" Of couse — a fox-hunt is to me a foretaste of celestial 
bliss. With a first-rate horse, a crack pack of hounds, a 
* good sceut,' and a fine morning, a man is tempted to 



54 



THE HAEOKTIT'F! T^RTDE. 



wish life could last forcvor. And you arc only going to 
ride to the meet, then. Lad}' Louise?" 

" Yes; 1 never followed the hounds. I don't know iho 
eountry, and 1 eau't rido to i^oints. Besides, I am not 
rciilly Amazonian enough to fancy a scamper across the 
eountry, flying" fences and risking my precious neck. It's 
mucli nicer ambling qtucitly homo when the hounds start, 
and indulging in a novel and a post-meridian cup of toa." 

" And much more w, nnmly. 1 shouldn't have liked to 
say so before, but 1 must own that, to me, a hiuy never 
loukh less attractive than in a h.mting-fjeld, among yelping 
hounds,, and shouts, and cheers, and cords and tops, and 
scarlet coats. ** 

" That comes of being a poet and an artist; and Sir 
Everard Kin^-'Sland is accused of being both. You want 
to fancy us ail anj^els, and vou can not rccouciio an angelic 
being with a tide-saddle and a hard gallop. Now, I don't 
own to benig anything in ilio Di Vernon lino myself, and 
I don't wish to be; but 1 do admire a spirited lady rider, 
and I do thirdv a ])rctty gj''l never looks half so pnitty ak 
when well mounted. You ehould have seen Ilarrie Hinis- 
den, as I naw her the other day, and you would surely 
recant your heresy about ladies and horse-llesh. " 

" Is llarrie JIuiisden a lady?" 

" Certainly. Don't you know her? Ahl I forgot you 
have been abroad all Ihese years, and that J. know more of 
our neij.dd)ors than you do, who ave ' to the maiior born. ' 
She is Ca])tain Jlunsden's only daughter — JIunsden, of 
Ilunsdcn Hall, over yonder, one of your oldest Devon 
families. You'll jind them duly chronicled in .Hurke and 
Debrett. But Capiain llun^dcn has been abroad so much 
that I am'not surprised at your want of information. Miss 
Hunsden is scarcely eighteen, but she has been over the 
world from Dan to Pjcersheba — from Quebec to Oibialtar 
— fi'om JIalil'ax to Calcutta. Two years of her life she 
passed at a New Y'ork boarding-school, of which city, it 
appears, her mother was a native." 

"Indeed!" Sir Everatd said, just lifting his ej'cbrows. 
" And Miss Iluusden rides well?" 

" Like Di Vernon's self. And I repeat, I don't affect 
the Di Verno?! style." 

" Is your Miss llunsden pretty? and sliall wo soc hor at 
the meet to-moriow?" 



; 

i 



u 



fi 



I * 



i 



THE l'.AU02ir;T's BRIDE. 



65 



I -; 



" Yes, to both questions; and more tlum tit tlie niee^., I 
fanoy. She luul her ihurough-bivJ, Whirlwind, will ktu'l 
you all. llor .soariet habit and ' red roan steed ' are as 
well known in the country as the duke's liounds, and her 
bright eyes and dashing style have taken by etorni the sus- 
cu])uble hearts of half the fox-hunting squires oi Devon- 
shire," 

She langhed a little maliciously, this vivacious Lady 
Louise. Truth to tell, not being quite sure that her game 
v/as safely wired, and dreading this Amazonian Miss liun,5- 
den as a prospective rival, she was iictliing loath to preju- 
dice the fastidious young baronet beforehand, even vvhilfc 
seeming to praise her. 

" 1 am surprised that you have not heard of her,'' she 
said, in her soft accents. " Sir Harcourt Helford and Mr. 
Cholmondeley actually fought a duel about her, and it 
ended in her telling tliim to their faces they were a pair of 
idiots, and flatly refusing both. * The Hunsden ' is the 
toast of the couuLry.'" 

Sir Everard shuddered. 

" From all such the gods deliver us! You honor Miss 
Hunsden with j'our deepest interest, I think, Lady 
Louise?'' 

" Yes, she is such an jddity. Her wandering lifc; I 
presume, accounts for it; but she is altogether unlike any 
girl I ever knew. 1 am certain," wiih a little maliciinis 
glance, " she will be your st\le. Sir Everard." 

" And as 1 don't in the least know what my btyle is," 
responded Sir Everard, with intinilo culm, " pirhaps you 
may be right." 

Lady Louise bli, her lip — it was a rebulT, she fancietl, f<tr 
her detraction. And then LaJy CarU-rct gave that my.-- 
terious signal, and the ladies rose and swrpt i lu tiing away 
in billows of silk to the drawing-ro im, ;uiii the gcnlU men 
hui; the talk to thcm;;;elves " across the walnuts and the 
wine. " 

'IV) one gentleman present the inti-rim before lejninii'g 
the ladies was an nnnii'igat'.ally dull one, even thougli I In; 
talk ran on two of Jiis favorite topics — horse-lleidi inid 
hunting. lie was in love, he tiiought complacently, aiid 
Lady Louioe's eyes had sparkled to-day, and her sj))il< .-; 
had Hashed their bi'^vihioring brightness upon him more 
radiantly than ever beXure. 




i 



56 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



"How pleased my mother will be I'' 
thought, holding his wine up to the light. 



Sir 



Everawl 
I will asic 



Lady Louise this very evening. An earPs daughter — even 
though a bauivrupt — is a fitting mate for a Kiugsland. '* 

Lady Louise sat at the piano — a piano whose notes were 
as the music of the spheres — the soft light falling full on 
her pale, statuesque face, and making an aureole around 
her fair, shapely Iioad. Her white dress of heavy, luster- 
less silk fell in classical folds around her stately figure, and 
the hands floating over the keys flashed with diamonds that 
dead-and-gone earls' daughters had worn a hundred years 
before. 

Sir Everard Kingsland crossed over and stood besido 
her, and Lord and Lady Carteret exchanged significant 
glances, and smiled. 

It was a very desirable thing , indeed ; they had broughu 
Louise down for no other earthly reason; and Louise was 
playing her cards, and playing them vvell. 

If Sir Everard had one taste stronger than another it 
was his taste for music, and Lady Louise held him spell- 
bound now. She played, and her fingers seemed inspired; 
she sung, and few non-professionals sung like that. 

The chain of brittle glass that bound the captive beside 
her grew stronger. A wife who could bewitch the hours 
away with such music as this would be no undesirable pos- 
session for a lldfc man. He stooped over her as she arose 
from the piano at last. 

'* Come out on the balcony," he said. *' The night is 
lovely, and the good people yonder are altogether engrossed 
in their cards and tiieir small -talk.'' 

Her cheeks flushed, her blue eyes lighted up. She knew 
intuitively what was coming. Without a word she stepped 
with him from the ojjen French wiuu jw out into the star- 
lit night. 

What is it that Eyron hays about solitude, and moon- 
light, and youth? A dangerous combination, truly; and 
so Sir Everard Kingsland found, standing side by side with 
this pale daughter of a hundred earls, under the swinging 
stars. iJut the irrevocable words were not destined to bo 
spoken, for just then George (Irosvenor, goaded to jealous 
desi)eration, stalked out through the open casement and. 
joined them. 

The big midnight moon was sailiufij slowly up to the 



THi: baronet's bride. 



67 



i 



aenitli as Sir Everard rode home. His road was a lonely 
one at all times — doubl}' lonely through Brithlow Wood, 
which shortened his journey by over a mile; but his 
thoughts were pleasant ones, and he hummed, as lie rode, 
the songs Lady Louise had sung. 

" Confound that muff, Grosvenorl" he thought. '* If 
it had not been for his impertinent intrusion, the matter 
would have been safely settled by this time — and settled 
pleasantly too, I take it; for, without being a conceited 
noodle, I really think Lady Louise will -«ay yes. Ah! 
what's this?" 

For out of the starlit darkness, from among the trees, 
started up a giant black figure, and his horse was grasped 
by the bridle and hurled back upon his haunches. He 
was in the midst of the wood, midnight solitude and gloom 
around. 

" You villain,** the young man danntlessly cried, " let 
go my bridle-rein I Who are you? What do you want?" 

" I'm Dick Darkly," answered a deej), gruff voice, '* and 
1 wfint your heart's blood I" 

" You poaching scoundrell" exclaimed Sir Everard, 
quick as lightning raising his riding-whip and slashing the 
aggressor a(5ros8 the face. *' Let go my horse's head!" 

With a cry thut was like the roar of a wild beast the man 
sprung back. The next instant, with a horrible oath, he 
had seized the young man in the grasp of a giant, and torn 
him out of the saddle. 

" ril tear you limb from limb for that blow, by heav- 
ens!" Dick Darkly shouted. ** If I hadn't meant to kill 
you before, I would kill you for that cut of your whip. 
I've waited for you. Sir Everard Kingsland! I swore re- 
venge, and revenge I'll have! I'll kill you this night, if 
they hang me for it to-morrow!" 

He had the strength of a dozen such men as the slender 
young baronet. He towered up in the weird night like a 
grim, black monster, with murder in his face, and a devil 
gleaming in cither eye. He held his victim in a grip of 
iron, from which he struggled madly to get free, while 
the horse, with a shrill neigh of terror, started off rider- 
less. 

'* I swore Vd kill you, Sir Everard Kingsland," Dick 
Darkly growled, " when you put my poor brother in Wor- 
rel Jail for buaring the miserable rabbits t# keep his sick 



:.■ i; 



I < 






! ] 



68 



THE T1ATI0NET S BRIDE. 



wife jvnd children from starving. 1 swore it, and I'll l-oep 
my ofith. You told your gamokeoper this very day you 
would lush mo like a dog, and duck me after. Aha, Sir 
I^]verard! Where's the horsc-whi]) and the horsc-j^'Ond 
now?" 

"Here!" shouted the young baronet; and with a mighty 
effort ho freed his arm'?, and raising the whip, slashed I)ick 
J)arkly for the second time across the face. " You mur- 
dering villain, you hhall swing for tliis!" 

Witii a blind roar of jiain a!id rage, the murderer closed 
with his victim. "J^hey grappled, jiud rolled over and over 
in each other's arms. Kow the baronet was up])ermosfc, 
now his assailant, in a silent, deadly struggle. 

The moonlight, sifting down through the trees, saw the 
grim, white faces, the starting eye-balis, the blood-staiueil 
grass. Panting and speechless, the death-struggle went 
on; but Sir Everard was no match for the biiriy giant. 
His sight was failing him, his breath coming in choking 
gasps, his hands jiowerlessly relaxing their hold. With a 
savage cry, the huge poacher thrust his hand into his belt, 
and a long, blue-bladed kniio gleamed murderously in the 
moon's rays. 

"At last!" he panted, his face distorted with llenilish 
fury. " I'll have your heart's blood, as I sworo I'd have 
it!'"' 

He lifted the murderous knife. Sir Everard Knigsland 
tried to gasp one last brief prayer in that supreme mo- 
ment. In another he knew that deadly blade would be up 
to the hilt in his heart. 

"Help!" he cried, with a last wild struggle — "help! 
help! murder!" 

There was a rustling in the trees and some one sprung 
out. The last word was lost in the sharp report of a pia- 
tol, and with an unearthly scream of agony, Dick Darkly 
dropped his knife and fell backward on the grass. 



CHArTEU yiii. 

A MYSTERIOUS YOUNG MAN"« 



TnE baronet leaped to his feet, and stood face to face 
with his preserver. The giant trees, towering up uutil 
tbey seemed to pierce the sky, half shut out the mooa- 



THE baronet's BRIDE, 



59 



»9P 



tho 



light, but yet Sir Everavd could see that it was a slender 
stripling who stood beforo him, a slouched hat pulled far 
over his eyes. 

" I owe you my life/' he cried, grasping the youth's 
hand. *' An instant later, and 1 would have been in eter- 
nity. How shall I ever thank you?" 

'' Don't make the attempt,'* replied the lad, coolly. 
*' It was the merest chance-work in the world that sent me 
bti-e to-night." 

*' Donb call it chance, my boy. It was Providence sent 
you to save a life." 

The youth laughed — a soft and silvery laugh enough, 
but with an unpleasant latent mockery. 

" Providence? I'm afraid that great guiding Power has 
very little to do with my actions. However, you may be 
right. Proviilence may have wished to save your life, and 
was not partioulai* as to the means. Let us look to this 
fellow. 1 hope my stray shot has not killed him out- 
right. " 

They both stooped over the fallen giant. Dick Darkly 
lay on his face, groaning dismally, the blood pumping 
from his chest with every breath. 

" It's an ugly-looking hole," said Sir Everard. *' Two 
inches lower, and it would have gone straight through his 
heart. As it is, it will pat a stop to his assassinating pro- 
clivities for awhile, I fanc}'. Lie still, you matchless 
scoundrel, wiiile I try and stop this flow of blood." 

He knelt beside the groaning man and endeavored to 
stanch the n d giu-hing with his handkerchief. The youth 
stood bv, gazing calmly ou. 

'' What do you i?iean to do with him?" he asked. 

*' Send some of my people to take him to his home, and 
as soon as he is suljieieutly recovered to stand his trial for 
attempted murder — " 

"For God's sake. Sir EverardI" faintly moaned the 
wounded man. 

*' Ah, you audacious villain, ynu can supplicate now! If 
I let you oil* this time, my life would not be worth an 
hour's purchase. Once you were able to stand again ou 
your rascally legs, I should be shot at like a dog from be- 
hind a Iiedge." 

" What (lid ho call you?" asked the boy, with sudden, 
sharp anxiety iu his tone. '* Whose life have I savedl''" 






1 :■ 

! 
I 



i i 



I 



' 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 

" I am Sir Everard Kingsland, of Kingsland Court," 
the baronet answorod. " And you are — who?'' 

The light there in that dusky woodland path was too 
dim for Sir Everard to see the change that passed over the 
youth's face at these words. It turned to a dull, leaden 
white. His right hand involuntarily clutched the dis- 
charged pistol and his eyes glowed like live coals. 

" Sir Everard Kingsland!" he slowly repeated, and his 
very voice had altered. " And I have saved your life!" 

" For which Heaven be praised! It is a very i)leasant 
world, this, and I have no desire just yet to leave it. Pray 
tell me the name of my preserver!" 

He had stanched the flow of blood and now stood before 
the youth, trying to see his hidden face. But the boyish 
head drooped. 

" Never mind my name; it is of no consequence who 1 
am. I have a long journey before me; 1 am very weary 
and footsore, and it is time I was on my way." 

*' Weary and footsore?" repeated the baronet. " Nay 
— then all the more need we should not part. Come homo 
with me and rest — to-night, at least. 1 owe you a heavy 
debt, and I should like to jmy a little of it." 

" You owe me nothing!" His eyes gleamed under his 
tat and his teeth clinched, as he spoke. " Nothing, Sir 
Everard Kingsland! Let us say good-bye. 1 must reach 
Worrel by sunrise. " 

*' And so you shall. The fleetest steed in my stables 
vshall carry you. But come to Kingsland and rest for the 
night. If you will not accept my thanks, accept at least 
the shelter of my roof." 

The boy seemed to hesitate. 

The baronet took advantage of that momentary hesita- 
tion and drew his arm through his own. There was not a 
prouder man in wide England, but this unknown lad had 
saved his life, and Sir Everard was only two-and-tvventy, 
and full of generous impulses. 

*' Come," he said, '* don't be obstinate. You own to 
being footsore and weary. Kingsland is very near, and a 
night's rest will do you good," 

The hidden face flushed, the hidden eyes glowed, but 
the voice that answered was calm. 

" Thanks! I accept your kind hospitality. Sir Everard, 
on two conditions." 



\ 



^ 



' I 



THE baronet's bride. 



m. 



** On any conditions you choose, mo7i ami. "What aro 
they?'' 

" That BO one shall know it but yourself, and that I 
may depart before day-dawn." 

*' I dislike that last condition very much; but it must bo 
as you say. Sleep in safety, most mysterious youth; no 
oae shall know you are under my roof, an'] I will come 
and wake you myself at the first peep of day. Will that 
do?" 

'* Admirably. You are very kind to take all this trouble 
for a nameless tramp. Sir Everard. " 

" Am 1? Even when the nameless tramp saved my 
life?" — yet Sir Everard winced a little while saying it. 
*' And that reminds me, we must hasten, if yonder fallen 
villain is to recover from his wound- Ilis condition is not 
an enviable one at this moment." 

*' How did it happen?" the boy asked. 

And the young baronet repeated the story of Dick 
Darkly's provocation and vow of revenge. 

As he concluded they passed through the stately gates, 
up the majestic sweep of drive, to the imposing old man- 
sion. 

" Home!" Sir Everard said, gayly. "■ Solitude and 
darkness reign, you see. The family have long since re- 
tired, and we can pass to our respective dormitories un- 
seen and unheard." 

The boy looked up with his brilliant, glowing eyes. 
There was more than mere curiosity in that look — the 
bright, fierce eyes actually seemed to glare in the moon- 
light. But he did not speak. In silence he followed Sir 
Everard in, up the noble marble stair-way, along richly 
carpeted, softly lighted corridors, and into a stately cham- 
ber. 

" You will sleep here," Sir Everard said. ** My room 
is near, and I am a light sleeper. To-morrow morning at 
five I will rouse you. Until then adieu, and pleasant 
dreams." 

He swung out and closed the door, and not once had lie 
neen the face of his guest. "JUiat guest stoo«l in tlw center 
of the handsome chamber, and gazed around with glitter- 
jng eyes. 

*' At last!" he hissos between his set white teeth — *' at 



!f 



i tj 
I 

!• i 

n 



62 



THE UARONKT'S BUIDK. 



last, after two ycurs' we;uy Wiiitiiig! At Jast, obi my 
molher, iho timo luu-^ corne for me to kee]) luy vo\r!" 

ilc raised one urn \ ilii ii trajj^ic gesture, removed the 
slouched hat, and stood uncovered in the tranquil half 
li^ht. 

Th) f;ice was woudorfuMy handsome, of gypsy darkness, 
ami the eyes shone like black stai's; but a .scarlet hand- 
kerchief was bound ti^;hi,ly arou'id his head, anil concealed 
every vestige of hair. With a t.iow smilu creeping round 
his niMuth, the boy took his handkerchief olr*. 

" To-ui'-vrow he will com.; and call me, but to-morrow 
I shall not leave Kingsland Court. Ko, my dear young 
baronet, I have not saved your life for nothing! I shall 
have the honor of remaining your guest for some time." 

AH dressed as he wiis, he ilung himself on the bed, mid 
in ten minutes n'as fast asleep. 



CHAPTEll IX. 

MISS SYISILLA SILVER. 

Meantime 8ir Everard had aroused his valet and a 
brace of tall footmen, and dispatched them to the aid of 
the wounded man in the wood. And then he sought his 
own chamber, and, after an hour or two of aimless tossing, 
dropped into an uueasy biyjvp. 

And sleeping, Sir h'vovard had a singular dream. Ho 
was walking tlu'ough Brithlow Wood with Lady Louise on 
his arm, the moonlight sifting through the tall trees as ho 
had seen it last. >Sii idenly, with a rustle and ahis>, ahuge 
green serpent gl'ded out, reanw.l itself up, ai J glared at 
them with eves of Ueiidlv m.'mi(-e x\nd somehow, though 
he lial nut yet seen the lad's faoe, he kiiew the hissing sor- 
p-nt and the pre.:!yrver of h's iile were one and the bame. 
With horrible hisses the monster encircled him. lis fetid 
bre^'h was in his face, ils di'adiv fangs reudv to strike his 
deaii-bltw, and, with a suli'ocating cry, Sir Everard awoko 
from his nlghttuiire and t-Uai'tcd up in b'jd. 

The cold persoiiation i^toud on his brow, and the ftrwt 
little pink cloud of da.vn was rosy in the ea<t. 

*' Good heaven-I such a night oi' horrors, waking and 
sleeping! A laost u;igi'aU;ial dream, trtdyl It is tifiaei 
awoke my unknown presoi ver. " 



i 



'ijii 



■i 



THE BARONRT S nr.TDE. 



f?3 



TTe sprung out of 1>; d, tlrc-ssed hastily, nnd made his waM 
to thft clianibor of hi:; giioat Jie rj'.ppod at tlio door — 
onoc, t\vi/t', thri'>i, loiilrr vivh tinio, but ntill no answer. 
TluMi h ; turned tho han'lfe and W'.-nt in. But on tho vory 
throdiohl ho recoiled a<? if ho had been struck. 

Tlie rii3'.steriju3 youth lay fast asleep upon the bed, 
dress.'d as ho h'ld left him, with the exception of the 
slouched hat and the red cotton handkerchief. They lay 
on tho carp'^t; and oves* the jmIIows, and over the coarse 
rolvc'tcen j;icket streamed such a wealth of blue-black hair 
as tiie biironet in all his life never before beheld. It 
rcjv'hod to the sleeper's waist in its rich, luxurious abun- 
dance. 

" Powers above!'* Sir Everard gasped, in his iittor 
amaze, " what can tliis mean?'* 

lie ad/aiijod with bated breath, bent over and gazod at 
tiie sleeper's face. One look, and his Hashing first suspi- 
cion was a certainty. This dark, youthful, faultlessly 
beautifid face was a woman's face; that llowiiig cloud of 
blue-black hair was a womaii's hah*. A girl in velveteen 
shootin'j-jacket and pantaloons, handsome as some dusky 
Indian princess, lay a.sleop before him. 

Sir Everanl King^land, in the last stage of bewilderment 
and amaze, retr'ated precipitately atid shut the door. 

"And to think," he said to himiclf in tho passage, 
when he could catch his breath, " that my mysterious 
young man of BrithI«)W Wood should turn out to bo a mys- 
terious young woman! x\nd a dead shot at that, by Jove!" 

The insta.'it the cha/nber door closed the mysterious 
young nnxn raixid himself on his (;lbow, very wide awake, 
his handsome face lighted with a triumphant smile. 

" So," he said, " step the sucond has been taken, and 
Sir Everard has diseo»(;red the sex of hit preserver. As 
ho is tco deiit-ate to disturb a slnnibering lady in disguise^ 
tho slumbering lady must disturb him!" 

He— or rather she — leaped lightly oif the bed, picked up 
the scarlet ban ianna, twisted scipntitically tho abundant 
black hair, bound it up with the handkerchief, and crushed 
down over all theslouoiied hat. Then, with the handsome 
face overshadowed, and all expression screwed out of it, 
she opened the door, and saw, as she expected, the young 
btu'onot ill the passage. 

He stopped at once «t sight of her. He had been walk* 



64 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



I ! 1 

: I 

r I i 'i 



ing up and down, with an exceedingly surprised and per- 
j)lexeil face; and now he stood with his great, Saxon-Dltw» 
eyes piercingly fixed ujion the young person in velveteen, 
whose jacket and trousers told one story, and whoso 
streaming dark hair told quite another. 

" It is past sunrise. Sir Everard," his preserver began, 
with a reproachful glance, " and you have broken your 
])rorni8e. You said you would awake me/' 

" I beg your i)ardon," retorted Sir Evorard, quietly; *' 1 
have broken no promise. I came to your room tea- min- 
utes ago to arouse you, as 1 said 1 would. I knocked 
thrice, and received no reply. Then 1 entered. You 
must excuse me for doing so. How was 1 to know I was 
entertaining angels unaware?" 

With a low cry of consternation his hearer's hands flew 
up and covered his face, to hide the blushes that were not 
there. 

'• Your red handkerchief and hat do you good service in 
your masquerade, mademoiselle. I confess I should never 
suspect a lady in that suit of velveteen." 

With a sudden theatrical abandon the '* lady in velvet- 
een " flung herself on her knees at his feet. 

" Forgive me!" she cried, holding up her clasped hands. 
" Have pity on me! Don't reveal my secret, for Heaven's 
sake." 

'* Forgive you!" repeated Sir Everard, hastily, endeav- 
oring to raise her. He had a true masculine hatred of 
scenes, and the present seemed a little overdone. *' What 
have 1 to forgive? Pray get up; there is no reason you 
should kneel and supplicate pity from me. You are wel- 
come to don inexpressibles to the last day of your life, as 
far as 1 am concerned." 

He raised her imperatively. Her head dropped in wom- 
anly confusion, and, hiding her face, she sobbed. 

*' What must you think? How dreadful it must look! 
But, oh. Sir Everard! if you only knew — if you only 
knew!" 

" I should like to know, I confess. Come here in this 
window recess and tell mo, won't you? The servants will 
be about presently, and will disturb us. Come, look up, 
and don't cry so. Tell me who you are. " 

** I am Sybilla Silver, and I have run away from bomfiir 
and I will die sooner than ever go back!" 



i 

i ■ 



THE BARONErS BRIDl. 



65 



Slie looked up with a puH8ionu!;e outbreak, and Sir Evor- 
ard, for tlio first time, saw the luminous splendor of a 



pair of flashing Spanish eyes. 



Why did 



*' 1 ahail not send you back, depend upon it. 
you run away. Miss Silver?" 

He smiled a little as he said it, the feminine appellation 
flound*3d so incongruous addressed to this slender lad in vel- 
veteen. Again the flashing brightness of the sivlondid 
Spanish eyes dazzled him. 

" Do you really wish to know?" she asked, earnestly. 
" Oh, Sir Evcrard Kingsland, will you indeed be my 
friend?" 

" Your true and faithful friend, my poor girl!" he an- 
swered, moved by the piteous appeal. " Surely I could 
hardly be less to one who so bravely saved my life." 

"Ah! that w.'^s notliing. I lay no claim on that. Serve 
mo as you would c'^rv, any friendless girl in distress; and 
jrou are brave and generous and noble, 1 know." 

The young baronet smiled. 

" You ' do me proud,* mademoiselle. Suppose you cease 
complimenting, and begin at the beginning. Who are your 
friends, and why did you leave them, and where have you 
Tun away from?" 

" From Yorkshire, Sir Everard — yes, all the way from 
Yorkshire in this disguise. Ah! it seems very bold and 
unwomanly, does it not? But my uncle was such a tyrant, 
and I had no appeal. I am an orphan. Sir Everard. My 
father and mother have been dead since my earliest recol- 
!!ection, and this uncle, my sole earthly relative, has been 
my guardian and tormentor. I can not tell you how 
cruelly he has treated me. 1 have been immured in a des- 
olate old country-house, without friends or companions of 
my own age or sex, and left to drag on a useless and aim- 
less life. My poor father left me a scant inheritance; but, 
Buch as it is, my uncle set his greedy heart upon adding it 
to his own. To do this, he determined upon marrying mo 
to his only son. My cousin William was his father over 
again — meaner, more cruel and crafty and cold-blooded, 
if possible — and utterly abhorred by me. I would sooner 
have died ten thouGand deaths than marry such a sordid, 
hateful wretch ? l^ut marry him I surely must have done, 
if I remained in their power. So 1 fled. With inconceiv- 
able trouble and maneuyering, I obtained this suit of 



1 f 





i 


1' 


J 





M THK UAltONKT*R BUTT>r* 

olothos. If T flc'fl uji(li!^<4iiisoil, J kiiuw I would certainly be 
pursued, ovtu'tukon, uud l)rou;>lil. b;iL!k. In tho dt'ud of 
iii^lit I oponed my cluvnibor window and niiulo my cstHpo. 
r took a loaded i)istol ol' iny ujiclo's with mo; I know how 
to U80 it, utul I I'olt sjil'o with suoh a pvoti'ctor. My old 
uuFhO lived in riyniouLli with her diin^^ditur, iuul to lior I 
meant to go. I hud a littlo money with mo, anil made 
<;ood my eycape. i\iy disiguido waved me I'rom busjueion 
ami inault. Last night, on my way to Worrel, T lieard 
your cry for hei|), and my ])ijstol «tood mo in gooil stead, 
for tlio fh\st time. 1'lioro, Sir KvevarJ, you know all. 1 
hato and deapise my.self for tho diesa J wear, but aurely 
there is souio exeuso to be madu for mo." 

Tho Spanish eyes, swimming in tears, were raised iu)- 
ploringly to his, and Sir Everard was two-and-twonty, and 
very susceptible to a beautiful wonuin's tears. 

" Very much excuse, my l>oor girl!'* ho said, warndy. 
" 1 am the last on earth to blamo you for Hying from a 
detested marriiigc. But there is uo need to wear this dis- 
guise longer, surely?" 

*'No; no need. But I have liad no opportunity of 
changing it; and if I do not tuciceed in linding my nnrcO 
at Plymouth, J don't know wlnit will become of me." 

" ilave you not her address?" 

"No; neither have 1 hoard from her in a long, long 
time. She lived in Plymouth years ago with luu- marrieil 
daughter, but wo never corri'Sj)onded; and whether she is 
there now, or whether indeed she is living at all, 1 do not 
know. I caught at tho hope as the drowidng (iateh at 
straws." 

Sir Everard paused thoughtfully a moment. She had 
removed the ugly hat and handkerchief while talking, and 
the luxuriant hair streamed in a glossy mass of curls anfl 
Tipples over her shoulders. 

He looked at her in that thoughtful pause. How bcaati- 
ful she was in her dark, glowing girlhood — how friendless, 
how desolate iu the world. 

All that was chivalric, and generous, and romantic, and 
impulsivoly youthful in the handsome barouet awoke. 

" It would, be the wildest of wild-goose chases, theo," 
he said, " knowing as little of your nurse's wheroaboata. aB 
yo« do, to seek her iu Plymouth now. Write first, w ad- 



THE HAU0NKT8 IJUIDE. 



Of 



>J 



vort)80 in tlio loiuil jourruils. If s\u) is still ro«idont there, 
tlmt will IVtch hor." 

'* Wriul udvortiso!'' Sybillu Silver rojR'utt'il, uiLb un- 
flpujikiiblc iMuiiniliiliit's^: *" from wlioiico, Sir Kvcranl?" 

*' From horo/'unrtWcrwl tho Imntnut, ilccidiHlly. '* You 
uluUl not lujivc horo until you liiul your friciuLs. And you 
shall not woar this odiou.s disguise un hour longer, (io 
back to your chamber and wait." 

lie rose abruptly a'.id loft hor; and Miss Sybiliii Silver, 
with a steely glitter in her handsome black eyes anil a dis- 
agreeably derisive smile about her pretty mouth, got up 
and went slowly back to her room. 

'* What an egregious mull he isl" she said to herself, 
contemptuously. " 'j'here is no cleverness in fouling such 
an imbecile as that. 1 am going on velvet for so far; I 
only hojw my lady may be us easily dealt with as my latly'a 
only son." 

iiy lady's only son went straight to a door down tho 
corridor, quite at tho other cxtriuiity, and opened it. 

As he expected at that early hour, he found it deserted. 
It was a lady*s dressing-room evidently, and a miracle of 

E late-glass, and gilding, and cedai' closets, and prettiness. 
laid out, all ready for wear, was a lady's morning toilet 
complete, and without more lulo Sir ]*>erard conliscatod 
the whole concern. At the white cashmere robe alone ho 
caviled. 

** This is too gay; I must find a more sober garment. 
All the maid-servants in tho house would recognize this 
immediately. " 

He went to one of the closets, searched there, and pres- 
ently reappeared with a black silk dress, liolling all up 
in a heap, he started at once with his prize, laughing in- 
wardly at the figure he cut. 

" If Lady Louise saw mo now, or my lady mother, either, 
for that macter! What will Mildred and her maid say, I 
wonder, when they find burglars have been at work, and 
her matutinal toilet stolen?" 

He bore the bundle straight to the chamber of his pretty 
runaway, and tapped at tho door. It was discreetly opened 
dD inch or two. 

" Here are some clothes. When you are dressed, come 
out. I will wait in the passage. " 

Thank you," Miss Silver's soft voice said — she Lad 



*( n 



68 



Tllii; r.AUONET 8 BKIDE. 



a peculiarly soft, swcot voice — dwd tlieii ilio door closed aud 
Sir Everarcl was left to wait. 

The yomiir person wlioso adventures were so lii^ldy sen- 
sational ilofTed her velveteens and donned the dainty j;ar- 
ments oi' Miss Mildred Kingsland. Shu exaudned the line, 
snow-white \hw\i with a curious smile. 

Ail tlie tilings were beautifully made and embroidered, 
njHikcd witli tlie initials '' M. K.," and adorned with the 
Kiuf^shmd crest. And, strange to say, all, the blacii silk 
robe included, fitted her wonderfully. The dress was 
rather tight, but she managed to fasten it. 

" Miss Mildred Kingsland must bo tall and slender, since 
her dress fits me so well. Ah, what a change even a black 
silk dress makes in one's ai)i)earanc(!! He admired me — 1 
saw he did, in jacket and pantaloons — what will he do, then, 
in this? Will ho fall in love with me. I womler?'* 

She laughed softly to herself at the thought. She was 
busy brushing out the lux'iriant tresses aud twisting the 
long, glossy curls around hei taper fingers. 

One parting peep in the glass, and she opened the door 
and stei)ped out before Sir Everard Kingsland, a dazzling 
vision of beauty. 

He stood and gazed. Could he believe his eyes? "Was 
this superb-looking woman with the llowing curls, the 
dark, bright beauty and imperial mien, Hie lad in velveteen 
who had shot the poacher last night? Why, Cleopatra 
might have looked like that, in the height of her regJil 
splendor, or Queen Semiramis, in the glorious days that 



were gone. 



" This is indeed a transformation," he said, (doming for- 
ward. " Vour disguise was perfect. 1 should never have 
known you for the youth 1 parted from ten ndnutes ago." 

" 1 can never thank you sutliciently. Sir Kverard. Ah, 
if you knew how I abhorred myself in that hateful dis- 
Nothing earthly will ever induce me to 2>ut it on 



guise; 
again.' 



"1 trust not," he said, gravely; "let us hope it may 
never be necessary. You are safe here, Miss Silver, from 
the tyraiuiy of your uncle and cousin. The friendless and 
unprotected shall never be turned from Kingsland Court." 

She took his hand and lifted it to her lips, and once more 
the luminous eyes were awimming in tears. 



i 






THE 75AROXKT S P. RIDE. 



09 



1 



Tho aot.ion was tliejitricjvlly graceful, but to Sir Everard 
very real, and his fair face reddened like a girl's. 

" 1 vould thank yoii if I could, 8ir Everard,'* the sweet 
voice inurmiued; "" but you overpower me! Your good- 
uess is beyond thanks/' 

A footste]) on tlji* marble stair maile itself unpleasantly 
auilible at this interesting crisis. Miss Silver dropped the 
baronet's hand with a wild instinct of ilight in her great 
bhiek eyes. 

*' lictiirt) to your room," Sir Everard whispered. 
" Lock tiio door, and remain there until 1 apprise my 
mother of your preseiuio hero and prepare her to receive 
yoii. Quick! 1 don't want tlu=se prying prigs of servants 
to 11 nd you here. " 

She \ranish(Ml like a Hash. 

Sir Everard walked down-stairs, and passed his own valet 
sleepily ascending. 

" 1 beg your ])arding. Sir llevorard," said the valet, in 
a tone of respectful reproach; " but \ve was all very anx- 
ious about you. Sir (Jalahad came galloping home rider- 
less, and — " 

" That will do, Edward, loii did not disturb Lady 
Kingsland?'' 

"No, Sir Jleverard." 

Sir Everard passed abruptly on and sought the stables 
at once. Sir Galahad was there, undergoing hic5 morning 
toilet, and greeted his master with a loud neigh of delight. 

The young baronet dawdled away the lagging morning 
hours, smoking endless cigars under tho waving trees, and 
waiting for the time when my lady should be visible. She 
rarely rose before noon, but to-day was one of the rare oc- 
casions, and she deign'^d to get up at nine. Sir Everard 
jHung away his Jast cigar, and went bounding up the grand 
stairs three at a time. 

Lady Kingsland sat breakfasting in her boudoir with her 
daughter — a charming little bijou of a room, all filigree 
work, and fluted walls, delicious little Greuze paintingi, 
and rtowcrs and perfume — and J^ady Kingsland, in an ex- 
r|ui.sit('Iy becoming robe de matin, at live-and -fifty looked 
f lii- a: id handsome, and scarce middle-aged yet. Time, 
I hat deal.! so gallantly with these blonde beauties, had just 
thinned the fair hair v.X the parting, and planted dajnty 



1^ 



70 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



crow's-feet about the patrician mouth, but loft the white 
skin unwrinklai and no thread of silver under the pretty 
Parisian lace cap. 

Mildred Kingsland, opposite her mother, scarcely bore 
her thirty years so gracefully. She looked jialo and 
passce, worn and faded, and seemed likely to remain Miss 
Kiiigsland to the end of her days now. She had had her 
little romance, poor girl, and it had been incontinently 
nipped in the bud by imperious mamma, and slie had duti- 
fully yielded, with the pain sharp in her heart all the same. 
But he was poor, and Mildred was weak, and so good-bye 
had been said forever, and Lady Kingsland's only daugh- 
ter glided uncomplainingly into old-maidenhood. 

My lady glanced over her shoulder, and greeted her son 
with a bright, loving smile. He was her darling and her 
pride — her earthly idol — the last of the Kingslands. What 
was a pale-faced, insipid girl like Mildred beside this 
" curled darling of the godsr"" 

" Good-morning, Everard! 1 thought you would have 
done Mildred and myself the honor of breakfasting with 
us. Perhaps it is not too late yet. May I oiler you a cup 
of chocolate?** 

" Not at all too late, mother mine. I accept your offer 
and your chocolate on the spot. Milly, good-morning! 
You are white as your dress! 

" 'Oh, fair, pnlo ^Marjiarotl 
Oh, rare, pale Margaret!' 

what is the matter?" 

*' Mildred is fading away to a shadow of late," his motU 
er said. " 1 must take her to the sea-shore for cliungo." 

" When?" asked Sir Everard. 

" Let mo see. Ah! when you are married, I think. 
What time did you come home last night, and how is Laitly 
Louise?" 

'* Lady Louise is very well. My good mother " — half 
laughing — '* are you very anxious for a daughter-in-law at 
Kingslaiid to quarrel with?" 

*' I shall not quarrel with Laoly Louise." 

" Then, willy-nilly, it must be JiOrd Carteret's daughter, 
and no other?' 

" Everard," his mother said, earnestly, " you know 1 
iiave set my heart on seeing Lady Louise your wife; and 









THE BARONETS BRIDE. 



71 



she loves you, 1 know. And you, my darling Everard — 
yott will not disiippoint me?" 

" 1 should be an ungrateful wretch if I did! Rest easy, 
via mere — Lady Louise shall become Lady Kingsland, or 
the fault shall not be mine. 1 believed I should have 
asked the momentous little question last night but for that 
interloper, (leorge Grosvenor!" 

"Ahl jealous, of course. lie is always de //•o/>, that 
great, 8tu])id (Jcorge," my lady said, complticontly. '* And 
was the dinner-party agreeable; and what time did you get 
home?" 

'* T'^e dinner-party wag delightful, and I came home 
siiortly after midnight. What time Sir (Jalahad arrived I 
can't say — half an hour before 1 did, at least." 

Lady Kingsland looked inrjuiringly. 

" Did you not ride Sir (Jalahad?" 

" Yes, until I was torn from the saddle! My dear 
mother, I met with an adventure last night, and you had 
like never to see your precious son again. 

"Everard!'' 

" Quite true. But for the direct interposition of Provi- 
dence, in the shajie of a handsome lad in velveteen, who 
shot my assailant, 1 would be lying now in Brithlow Wood 
yonder, as dead as any Kingsland in the family vault." 

And then, while Lady King.-land, very, very pale in her 
alarm, gazed at him breathlessly. Sir Everard related his 
thrilling midnight adventure and its cause. 

" Good heavens!" my lady cried, starting from her seat 
and clasping him convulsively in her arms. " Oh, to think 
what might have hapjwned! My boy — my boy!" 

Tile young man laughed and kissed her. 

*' Very true, mother; but a miss is as good as a mile, 
you know. Poetical justice befell my assailant; and here 
I am safe and sound, sipping chocolaie. Another cu]), if 
you ])lease, Milly." 

" And the preserver of your life, Everard — whore is he?" 

'* Upstairs, waiting, like patience on a monument; and, 
by t})e same token, f ousting all this time! But it isn't a 
he, m(( mere ; it's a she." 

" Wiiat?" 

Sir Everard laughe<l. 

*' Such a mystilied face, mother! Oh^ it's highly seusa- 



72 



TllK J5AU0NET.S I5K1UK. 



It 



•i 



I I: I 






I' 

i 



i 



il 



•i !■■ 



-f 



t- ■ 
t 



tional a!Kl raolodranitttic, I promise you! Sit down and 
hoar tlio sequel.'^ 

And then, eloquently and ])ersuasivcly, Sir Everard re- 
])cateil Miss Sybilla's Silver's extraordinary story, and Lady 
Kingsland was properly shocked. 

" JJisguised herself in men's clothes! My dear Everard, 
what a dreadful creature she must bo!'' 

" Not at all dreadful, motlun-. She is as sensitive ami 
womanly a young lady as ever 1 saw in my life. And," 
pursued the baronet, moderately, " she's a very pretty 
girl, too." 

Lady Kingsland looked suspiciously at her son. She 
highly disapproved of pretty girls whore he was concerned; 
but the handsome face was frank and «"'"^n as the day, 
rather laughing at her than Oiihcrwisc. 

" Now don't be suspicious. Lady Kingsland. I'm not go- 
ing to fall in love with Miss Sybilla Silver, I give you my 
word and honor. She saved my life, remember. May 1 
not fetch her here?" 

*' What! in men's clothes, and before your sister? Ever- 
ard, how dare you?" 

Sir Everard broke into a peal of boyish laughter that 
made the room ring. 

" I don't believe she's in men's clothes!" exclaimed Mil- 
dred, suddenly. " llonorinc told me robbers must have 
been in my dressing-room last night— half my things wero 
stolen. I understand it now — Everaril was the robber. " 

The young man got up and walked toward the door. 

" I am going for her, mother, liemember she is friend- 
less, and that she saved your son's life." 

He quitted the room with the last word. That claim, 
he knew, was one his devoted mother, with all her imperi- 
ous pride, would never repudiate. 

" Oh!" she said, lying back in her chair pale and faint, 
'* to think what might have ha])[)cne(l!" 

As she spoke her son re-entered the room, and by his 
side a young lady — so stately, so majestic in her dark 
beauty, that involuntarily the mother and daugliter arose. 

" My mother, this young lady saved my life. Try and 
thank her for me. Lady Kin^rsland, Mi;-..;, Silver." 
some siibi' 



rely 



I' 



dark daughter of the tarih. 'J'ht; iitjiiid (i;ii k «vis lifted 
themselves iu mute apjtLal to the gual. ludy'd lui.c, and 



I 



f 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



78 



then the proudest woman in England opened her arms 
with a sudden impulse and took the outcast to her bosom. 

" 1 can never thank you," she murmured. " The serv- 
ice you have rendered me is beyond all words.'* 

An hour later Sybilla went slowly back to her room. She 
had breakfasted tctc-a-tctc wi^h my lady and her daugh- 
ter, while Sir Everard, in scarlet coat and cord and tops, 
had mounted his bonny bay and ridden of! to Lady Louise 
and the fox-hunt, and to his fate, though he knew it not. 
And in that hour the subtle fascination had wrought its 
spell. 

" Pically, Mildred," my lady said, " a most delightful 
youni^' person, truly. Do you know, if she does not suc- 
ceed in finding her friends I should like to retain her as 
a companion?" 

Li her own room Sybilla Silver stood before the glass, 
and she smiled buck at her own image. An evil, sardonic 
smile it was, that Lucifer himself might have worn. 

" So, my lady," she said, " you walk into the trap with 
your eyes open, too — you who are old enough to know bet- 
ter? My handsome face and black eyes and smooth tongue 
stand me in their usual good stead. And I saved Sir Ever- 
ard Kiugland's life! Poor fools! A thousnd times bet- 
ter for you all if I had let that midnight assassin shoot him 
down hke a dog!" 



CHAPTER X. 

A SHAFT FROM CUPID* S QUIVER. 

It was fully ten o'clock, and the hunting-party were 
ready to start, when Sir Everard Kingsland joined them, 
looking handsome and happy as a young prince in his very 
becoming hunting costume. 

The meet was at Brithlow Brake, and half a dozen gen- 
tlemen, who had dropped in on their way to cover, were 
grouped picturesquely around the ladies. 

Of course the young baronet's first look was for Lady 
Louise — he scarcely glanced at the rest. She was just being 
assisted into the saddle by the di'voted (Jeorge (Irosvenoi-, 
but she turned to Sir Everard with the sweet smile he had 
learned to know so well, and graciously held out her gauut- 
leted hand. 

"Once more,'' she tuid, "almost late. Laggard! I 



f I 



[< > 



nil 






74 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



shall quarrel with you one of these days if you do not learn 
to be more punctual/' 

" You will never have to reproach mo again,*' he said, 
gallantly. " Had 1 known you would have honored my 
absence by a thought, you should not have had to reproach 
juo now." 

" Very pretty, indeed. Sir Everard. But don't waste 
your time paying complimentH this morning. Thanks, Mr. 
(frosvenor; that will do. For whom are you looking, Sir 
Everard? Lady Carteret? Oh, she is going to see as 
much of the fun as she can from the carriage, with some 
other ladies. Miss llimsden and myself are the only ones 
who intend to ride. JJy the way, 1 hope Sir Oalahad will 
uphold his master's reputation to-day. He must do his 
very bust, or AVliirlwind will boat him." 

At that instant a red-coated yoinig gentleman j<)ined 
them, in an evident state of excitement. 

" I say, Kingsland, who's that girl on the splendid roan? 
She sits superbly, and is stunningly handsome besides. I 
be^ your pardon, Lady Louise — perhaps you know." 

Lady Louise laughed — h<3r soft., malicious laugh. 

" fjord Ernest Strathmore is excited on the subject. 
That young lady is Miss Harriet Hunsden. Don't lose 
yoiu' head, my lord. One gentleman possesses that heart, 
and all the rest of you may sigh in vain." 

" Indeed! And who is the fortunate possessor?" 

" ('aptaiu Hunsden, her father. There he is by her side 
now." 

At the first mention of her name Sir Everard Kingsland 
had turned sharply around and beheld — his fate. Uut ho 
did not know it. Who was to toll him that that tall, im- 
perial-looking girl with the gold-brown hair, the creamy 
skin, the great gray eyes, and slender shape, was to over- 
turn tlio whole scheme of the universe for Jiitn — to drive 
him blind and mad with the frenzv men call love? He 
only saw a handsome, spirited-looking girl, sitting a mag- 
nificent roan horse as easily as if it hail been an arm-chair, 
and talking aninuitedly to a stalwart soldierly man with 
white hair and mustache. 

As he glanced away from his prolonged stare he met the 
piercing gaze of Lady Jjouise's tur(HU)is-blu(i eyes. 

*' ViV fu, linifc?" she cried, gayly. "Oh, my pro- 
phetic soul! Did 1 not warn you, Sir Everard? Did I not 



^ i 



I' 



(3 



^ i 



THE BAROKET'S bride. 



75 



^ 






forptell thftt the clashing damsel in the scarlet habit would 
j)lay the mischief with your fox-hunting hearts? No, nol 
never deny the soft impeachment I ]>ut I tell j'on, as I 
told Lord Ernest, it is of no use. She is but seventeen, 
and ' ower young to marry yet. ' " 

Before Sir J^verard could retort, the «;ry of " Hero they 
come!'* proclaimed the arrival of the hounds, and as the 
huntsmtm j)asHed ho cast rather surly glances at the two 
mounted ladies with pleasant inward visions of their head- 
ing the fox and being in the way. 

The hounds were put into the gorse, and the red-coats 
beiran to move out of the field into the lane. Sir Everard 
and Lady Louise with them. 

A loud " ll;Uloo!" rang through the air; the hounds 
«ame with a ru«hi?ig roar over a fernte. 

" There he i.s!" cried a chorus of voices, as the fox flew 
over the groinid. 

And at. the same instant Whirlwind tore by like its name- 
sake, with the handsome girl in the sjwldle upright as a 
dart. Away wcnit Sir (ialahad belter skelter, side by side 
with the roan. Tiady Louise and her sedate nag were left 
hopelessly behind. 

On and on and on like the wind Whirlwind flew the 
fences, a»ul Miss Jlinisden sat in her saddle like a queen on 
her throne, never swerving. 

The young baronet, even in the fierce heat of the hunt, 
oonlil see the beautiful glowing face, the flashing gray eyes, 
and the hiimes of light flickering in the gold-brown hair. 
Side by side Sir (Ialahad and Whirlwind darted to the eud 
of the fourth inclosure. 

Then (uinio a change — a wall of black, heavy thorn rose 
ahead, which no one was mad enough to face. A horrible 
wide ditch was on the near side, and Heaven knows what 
on the other. 

The baronet pulled his bay violently to the right and 
looked to see the dashing huntress follow. But, no; the 
blood of Miss Hunsden and the " red-roan steetl " was up, 
and straight they went at that awful pace, scorning to 
swerve an inch. 

"For (>od*s sake. Miss Hunsden I" cried the voice of 
Lwd Ernest Strathmoro, "don't try that!** 

Hut he might as well have spoken to the cataract of 
Niagara. With a tremendous iusl? Whirlwind charged the 






i 



ft"* } ' ; 
f ) >■ 



1-i t 




! ■ * ■ 


.! fe.. 


njj 


81 


'«! 


1 


H 






1 



7e 



THF baronet's BRIDE. 



a \( rrible Tash— «nothor— and a plunge 
:d sick with horror; but tlie magnifi- 



downward. 

Sir E orai 
cent Whirhvinu sotti ; into his stride, and tlio girl recov- 
ered her balance in the very instant, and away again like 
the wind. 

"Splendidly done, by Jove!" cried Lord Ernest, his 
eyes ablaze. " I never saw a lady ride before like that ki 
all my life." 

Sir Everard dashed on. His horse was on his mettle; 
but, do what ho would, the slender, girlish figure, and 
superb roan kept ahead. Whirlwind took hedges and 
ditches before him, disdaining to turn to the right or left, 
and after a sharp run of an hour. Miss Hunsden had the 
glory and happiness of I'^mg one of the successful few up 
at tlie finish in time to .- jc the fox, quite deatl, held over 
the huntsman's head, with the hounds hanging expectant 
around. 

Every eye turned upon the heroine of the hour, and loud 
were the canticles chanted in her honor. The master of 
the hounds himself rode up, all aglow with admiration. 

" Miss llunsden," he said, " I never in all my life saw 
a lady ride as you rode to-day. There are not half a dozen 
men in Devonshire who would have faced those fences as 
you did. I sincerely hope you will frequently honor our 
field by your presence and matchless riding." 

Miss Hunsden bowed easily and smiled, showing a row 
of dazzling teeth. 

And then her father came up, his soldierly old facjc 
aglow. 

" Harrie, my dear, I am proud of you! You led us all 
to-day. I wouldn't have taken that nasty place myself, 
and I didn't believe even Whirlwind could do it." 

Then George Grosvenor and Lord Ernest and the rest of 
the men crowded around, and compliments poured in in a 
deluge. 

Sir Everard held himself aloof — disgusted, nauseated — 
or so he told himself. 

" Such an unwomanly exhibition! Such a daring, mas- 
culine leap! And see how she sits ard smiles on those 
empty-heiwied fox-hunters, like an Amazonian queen in her 
court! How diiTorent from Lady Louise! And yet! good 
heavens! how royally beautiful she is!" 



I 




TH E r A J;ON KT S B K I DK. 



77 



*' Alone, Kin^slaiid?' exclaiiiicd a voice at his elbow; 
iind glHiieing around lie .saw Lord Carteret. '* What do 
you think of our pretty J>i Vernon? You don't often see 
a lady ride like tiiat. Why don't you pay your respeotisi' 
Don't know her, eh? ('oiue alone; I'll preK ' .. 'ou. 

(Sir Everard's heart jiave a sudden plun^i;^, (, to unac- 
countably. Without a word he rode up to heii 'le gray- 
eyeil enchantress held her nia^'ic circle. 

" liarrie, my dear," said the elderly norjlc*'.n, " 1 bring 
a worshiper who hovers aloof and ^azet' in tipeeohless ad- 
miration. Jjct me present my young ' ntV, Sir Everard 
Kingsland, Miss Ilimsden." 

Sir Kverard took olf his hat, and bent to his saddle-bow. 
The clear gray eyes and sparkling, smile-lit face turned 
their entrancing brightness u])on him, and again his heart 
went in tumultuous plunges against his ribs. 

"Sir Everard Kingsland I" cried Captain llunsdcn, 
cordially. " Son of my old friend. Sir Jasper, I'll bo 
sworn I My dear boy, how are you? I knew your father 
well. We were at Kugby together, and sworn com2)anion8. 
Ilarric, this is the son of my oldest friend." 

** Papa's friends are all minel" 

The voice was clear and sweet as the beaming eyes. She 
held out her hand with a frank grace, and Sir Everard took 
it, its light touch thrilling to the core of his heart. She 
was only a miulcaj), a hoideu — a youthful Amazon who 
took hideous leaps and rode after hounds — but, for all tha^., 
she was beautiful as a CJreek goddess, and — his time had 
come. 

Sir Everard Kingsland rode back to Carteret Park be- 
side the Indian orticer and his daughter as a man might 
ride in a trance. Surely within an hour the whohs world 
had been changed! lie rode on air instead of solid soil, 
and the sunshine of heaven was not half so brilliant as 
Harriet liunsden's smile. 

" Confess now. Sir Everard," she said, laughingly cut- 
ting short the compliments he tried to utter, " you were 
shocked and scandalized. I saw it in vour face. Oh, 
don t deny it, and don't tell polite liljs! 1 always shock 
people, and rather enjoy it than olliorwise." 

" llarriitl" her father said, ri'iirovingly. " She is a 
spoiled mailcap. Sir Everard, and I am afraid the fault is 
mine. She has been cverywheic with me in her acventeen 



\ f 



78 



THE BAUONET's IHUDE. 



> ! 



! ; 






yt'jirs of lifo — freeziu;,' amid tliu stunvs of CaiuuJu ujiO giiiJ- 
ing alivo under the broiling sun of India. And tliu result 
is — what you see." 

" Tho result is — perfection!" 

" Vi\\yi\," Alisa liunsdoii said, tin'nin<j; her sparkling fai-e 
to her father, " for Sir J'lverard's sake, ])ray change Li»u 
subject. If you talk of nie, he will feel iti duty Ijoiind lo 
pay coiujjliments; and really, after such a fast run, it is Li i> 
much to ex])cct of any man. 'I'here! 1 see Lady JjoiiiiL>c 
across tho brook yonder. J will leave you gentlemck to 
cultivate one another. Allons, mcssicnrx !" 

One ileetiug, backward glance of the bewitching face, a 
saucy smile and a wave of the hand, ami Whirlwind kad 
leajK'd across the brook and ambled on beside the sober 
charger of Lady Louise. 

" Kvery one has been talking of your riding, Miss IIonj^- 
don," Lady Louise said. " I *"u nearly beside mys(4i' 
with envy. Jjord J^irnest Stratnmore says you are fehe 
aiost graceful equestrienne he ever saw.'' 

*' Ills lordshij) is very good. 1 wish 1 eoidd return Uie 
eompliment, but his chestnut balked shamefully, aatl 
came home dead beat I" 

Lord Ernest was within hearing distance of the cicar; 
girlish voice, but he only laughed good-naturedly. 

"As you are strong, be merciful. Miss lEunsden. Wo 
can't all perform miracles on horseback, you know. J 
came an awful cropj)er at that ugly hedge, to be sure, aiid 
your red horse went over me like a blaze of lightiun^'I 
You owe me some atonement, and — of course you are go- 
Mig to the ball to-night?" 

" Of course! I hke balls even better than hunting." 

" And she dances better than she rides," j)ut in her fa- 
ther, coming up. 

" She is perfection in everything she undertakes, I a*u 
certain," Lord Ernest said, salaaming profoundly; " and 
for that atonement I speak of. Miss ilunsden, 1 claim tko 
first waltz." 

They rode together to Carteret Park. Sir Evorard kin\ 
the privilege of assisting her to dismount. 

"You must be fatigued. Miss Ilunsden," ho sui«l. 
" Witk a ball in prospective, after your hard gallop*, 1 
should recommend a long rest." 

Miss Huusdon laughed gayly. 



THK PARONKT'S IJRIDE. 



n 



p\ 



■^ 



** Sir Evomni, 1 tlon't know Iho moftning of thfti word 
*fati{]jue. ' I ncvor wais linul in my life, and J um riMidy 
lor tho bill! to-night, and a steL']>lo-(!lmso to-morrow, if you 
like." 

She tripped o(T hh kIio Rjwko, witli a niiscliiovons glujice. 
(She wanted to sliock him, and alio suceeeiled. 

" I\)or girl I" lu! thought, with a littlo shudder, as ho 
siowly turned homeward, " she is really drewdftd. Sho 
never had a mother, I HU])])ose, and wandering over the 
world with her father has mado lier a perfe<;t savage. 
Ifow refreshing is Jiady Louise's repose of manner in eom- 
l)ariaon! IShe is truly to bo jutied — so oxeeedingly beauti- 
Inl as sho is, too!" 

.Sir J^lverard eertairdy was very sorry for that hoidenisk 
Miss Ilunsden. J To thought of Iut wlulo dressing for din- 
ner, to the utter exelusioii of everything else, and he talked 
of her all through that meal " more in sorrow than in 
auger." 

S3'billa Silver, quite like one of the family already, made 
the fourth at the table, and listened with greedy ears and 
eager blacjk eyes. 

" You ought to eall, mother," the baronet said, " yon 
and Mildred. Common politeness requires it. ('ajitain 
]Tunsden was my father's most intinuito friend, and this 
wild girl stands sadly in need of some matronly adviser." 

" ] remember (*aptain Hunsdon," Lady Kingsland said, 
thoughtfully; "and I remember tliis girl, too, when sho 
was a ehild of three or four years. !lTe was a very hand- 
some man, I reeollect, and ho married away in Canada or 
the United States. There was some mystery about that 
marriage — sonu^thing vague and unpleasant — no one knew 
what. She ouirht to be pretty, this daughter. " 

"Pretty!" Sir Kverard exclaimed; "sho is beaidifid as 
an angel! I never saw such eyes or such a smile in the 
whole course of my life. " 

"Indeed!" his mother said, coldly — "indeed! Not 
even excepting Lady Louise's?" 

Sir Everard blushed like a school-boy. 

" Oh, liady Louise is altogether ditterent! I didn't mean 
anj comparison. Ihit you will see her to-night at liady 
Carteret's ball, and can judge for yourself. Slie is a mere 
child — sixteen or soventoeii, 1 believe." 



80 



TIIK I;AI{0XKTS nilTDE. 



" AjhI Jjii'ly TiOiiiso is (lv«'-jm(l-l.\V(Mity," aaifl Mildrod, 
with jiwfiil ucciiriKiy. 

*' Slid (iocs not look Uv'onLyl" oxc^liiirinnl my liwly, 
sharply. " I'liuro iiro taw yoiin^' UuVnjs nowadays Jiulf so 
(!!i';jjaiiL and ^nufoful as liudy Louise" 

Miss Silvtir's hir<5o black cyus j,didod from ono to tho 
oLhor witli a KJnisUir smilo in Llioir slii?iing depths, llor 
Hol't voi(!o broke in al tiiis jiirrin}; jiinetiire and sweetly 
turned the disturbed eiirrent of eonvorsation, and Sir 
KvtMMrd understood, and <:;ave her a j^'rateful j^Iancio. 

Tlie yoinig baroiKft Jiad ^'ono to nianv balls in his life- 
tinu!, but never hail he been so painfully parti(!ular before. 
He drove Mdward, his valet, (o the verge of nuidness with 
his whims, and left olT at last in sheer dosiu-ration and al- 
to<^(^ther tlissatislied with the result. 

•* f look like a guy, 1 know," ho muttered, angrily, 
'* and that ])ert little I funsden is just the sort of girl to 
make satirical eomments on a num if his neek-tio is awry or 
his hair unbecoming. Not that I viwo what sho says; but 
ono hates to feel he is a hiughing-stock. '^ 

Tho ball-room was brilliant with lights, and music;, and 
llowcrs, and diamonds, ami beautiful I'actts, and magnilieeut 
trtilets when the Kingsland ])arty entiircd. 

Lady (iarteret, in velvet robes, stood reeoiving her 
guests. Lady Louise, with wliite a/aleas in her hair and 
dress, stootl stately' a,nd graceful, looking from tip to too 
what she was — the desoenihmt of a raeo of '" highly- wed, 
highly-fed, highly-bred " aristocrats. 

J hit at neither of them Sir Kdward glanced twice. TTis 
eyes wandered around and lighted at last on a divinity in 
a (doud of misty white, crowned with dark-green ivy leaves 
aglitter with diamond drops. 

There she stood, her white shoulders rising exr|nisitoly 
out of the foamy lace, leaning in a careless, graceful way 
against a marble column, holding her bou<piet, and looking 
Kke some lovely fairy (jueen. You could not imagine her 
the dashing huntress of the morning. 

While he gazed, Lord Ernest Strathmore came up, said 
something, atul whirled her oil' in the waltz. Away they 
Hew. fiord Ernest waltzed to perfection, and she — a 
French woman or a fairy only could float like that. 

A fierce, jealous pang jp'ipt'd his heart; e second, and 



THE BAUOKKT'.S ItUIDIJ. 81 

thoy wore out of Hi;;hl. Sir lOvoninl nuiHod liiiiiaulf fr«in 



kill iiv«jii*i<i> m-j yi\Ji»i I ii*i I y I xiii^-^i(»ii«i Kkii^iiiii^i UIH 

iu;irn:ioius Htill — " tako ouru of your son. I'm afruid ho'a 
gouig to full in love. '* 



CTIAPTKU XI. 

•' Foil I.OVK WILL HTll^L ItK L(>KI) OP ALL." 

My Lmly Cjirtorot'H ball was a brilliant suuocsa, and, 
fairest where all wore fair, llarrie llunsden shono down all 
oonipotitors. As alio iloatod down the ioiijij ball-room on 
the arm of Lord Ernest, lij^Iit as a Hwininiini^'-tprite, a 
hunilreil admirin-i; male eyes followed, and a hundred fair 
patriciian bosoms throbbed with bitterest envy. 

'* The little llunsden is in full feather to-ni<,dit," lisped 
(feor<:;e Grosvenor, coming up with his adored jjady Loiuso 
on his arm. " There is nothin«^ half so beautiful in the 
room, with ono exception," a sidelong bow to his fair com- 
panion. "And only look at Kingsland! Oh, he's done 
for, to a dead certainty!'* 

Sir Everard started u\) rather confusedly, llo had been 
leaning against a pillar, gazing after the divinity in the ivy 
Of twn, with his heart in iiis eyes, and Lady Louise was the 
liift person in the universe he had been thinking of. With 
a guilty feeling of shame he turned and met the icily 
form.d bow of Karl Carteret's daughter. 

" Wy aro losing our waltz, Mr. (rrosvenor,'* slie :;i!,id, 
frigidly, *' and we are disturbing Sir Everard Knt-'xlunJ. 
The ' Ciuards' Waltz * is u great deal too dol'^htful to bo 
missed.*' 

" I fancied the first waltz was to be mine, I<u«'y Louise/' 
Sir Everaril said, with an awful sense of guilt. 

Jjady Louise's blue eyes Hashed lire. Had looks been 
lightning, that glance would have slain him. 

" With Miss llunsden, perhaps — certainly not with me. 
Come, Mr. Grosvenor." 

It was the first spiteful shaft Lady Louise had ever con- 
descended to launch, and she bit her lip angrily an instant 
uftor, as Georgo whirled her away. 

" idiot that I am," she thought, " to sho\v'him I can 



4( 



k' 



I 



HI 



I, 



I 



:'i f 



^ 'J 



1 'I 



83 



THE BAUONET*S IJKIDE. 



stoop to be piqued — to show him I can be jealous — to show 
fciiii 1 caro for lilm like thisi lie will got to fancy J lov(; 
him next, and he — ho has had ncillior eyes nor ears for 
any one else since he saw llarrie lliinsden Ihis morning." 

A sliar)), quick pain pierced the j)roud breast of the 
earl's daughter, for she did love him, and she know it — as 
much as it was in her lymphatic nature to lovo at all. 
Anil, with the knowledge, her woman's anger rose. 

" I will never forgive hi)n — never!" her white teetL 
clincheil. " The dastard — the traitor — to play the de- 
voted to me, and then desert me at the lirst sight of a 
madcap on horseback. I will never stoop to say one civil 
word to him again." 

Lady Louise kept her vow. Sir Everard, penitent and 
rrmorseful, strove to make Ids })(!ace in vain. 

fjord Carteret's daughter listened icily, sent barbed 
shafts tipped with poison from her tongue in I'cply, danced 
frigidly with him once, and steadily refuseil tc danc«} 
again. 

She let George (Jrosveror — jm-r raothl — Jlutter into th<j 
flame and singe his wings worse than ever. With him she 
went to supper, and one of the white azaleas shone tri- 
imipliant in his black ,:(»at, as a reward of merit. 

Sir Kverard gave it u]) at last and went in search of 
Miss Ilunsden, and was accei)ted by that young lad) on 
the spot for a rodowa. 

"I thought you would have asked me ages ago, " said 
Harrio, with delicious frankness. " I saw you wore a good 
dancer, and that is more than 1 can say for any other gen- 
tleman present, except Lord I^rnest. Ah, Lord J'lrnest 
can waltz! It is the hoigbt of ball-room bliss to be his 
partner. Jiut you stayed away to quarrel with Lady 
Louise, 1 suppose?" 

" I have not been quarreling with Lady TiOuise," rojdied 
Sir Everanl, feeling guiltily conscioiw, though, all the 
Bume. 

"No? It looked like it, then. She snubs you in the 
most merciless nuinner, and you — oh, what a penitent face 
you wore the last time you approac-hed her! J thought she 
was a great deal too uplifted for llirting, but what do you 
call that with (leorgo (Jrosvenor?" 

" (leorge (Irosvenor is a very old friend. Here is our 
i^owa. Mm llunsdcu. ]^ever mind Lady Louise. " 



4 






THE TlAKONF/rs rUtfDE. 



88 



' said 
good 



IS our 



His arm encircled her wuiit, ami away they ilevi^. Sir 
Evcrurd could dajice as well as Lord Eriiost, and quite as 
njauy ail miring eyes followed him and tho bright little 
btllo of the ball. ^U\ (Jrosvenor pulled his lawny mus- 
tacii(5 with inward (hlight. 

" Ilandaomo couple, eh, Carteret?" he said to his host; 
"it is an evldi-nt ease of sp ions tiieru. Well, tho boy is 
only two-and-tWL'uty, and at that age we all lost our heads 
easily. " 

Two angry led S[)ots, (luito foreign to her usual com- 
pL'xion, biirned on Lady Louise's fair cheeks. She turned 
abruptly away ai'.ii left llie gentlemen. 

'* LiUl'j llarr.e is prettv enough to excuse an older ma« 
losing his head,'* L.jrd Carteret ansivered, looking aftor 
his sister a littio uneasily; " but it would not suit Lady 
Kingsland's book at all. Tho Ilunsden is poorer than a 
church-mouse, u»id though of one of our best old-country 
familie;!, tho pedigree bears no pripoiiion to my lady > 
ptide. A duk;''s daughter, in her estimation, would bt 
noiie too good for her darling S'ju. See, she is frowinng 
ominously in tho distance now I" 

Mv. '^ro.svenor ymiled ratirically. 

" Slio is a wonderful woman — my lady — but I fancy she 
IS matched at last. If King.?land sets his heart on this 
latest fancy, all the powers of earth and Iladej) will not 
move him, for verily ho ( ome ; nf a d'»ggL\l and determined 
race. l)o you recollect that little aiiair of Miss Kingsland 
and poor i)ouglas of tho — th? My lady l)ut a stop to 
that, and ho was shot, poor fellow, before IJalaklava. liut 
tho son and lu ir is qtnte auolhcr sior}'. Apropos, I must 
at>ii linle Mildiiil to dunce, .la'io, Carteret!'* 

" Uow noKcle s i;.IIs the foot of time 
TliiU: only treat is on llowers!" 

The ball whirled on— the hours went by like bright, 
Bwift Hashes, and, from the moment of the redowa, to Sir 
Everard Kingslard it was one brief, intoxicating dream of 
delirium. My Lady Kingsland 's matdnal frowns, my 
Lady Lonif-o's imperial so irn — jdl wtro forL'otten. She 
;^as a madcap and a h liden — :i wil/l, hare-brained, fox- 
hunting Ama/i)n — all that was bhocking and unwomanly, 
but, at the same time, all that waj bright, beautiful, en- 
tranoing, irresistible. liis golden -haired ideal, with tho 



,! 



ft as 






i] 



SI 



THK r.AUONLT.S IMIIDE. 



a/.iire oycs and serupliio piiiilc, soft of voiir, Miniil of nusii- 
ner, a cnxss between an aiiL'el ai:>l 'roiiiivrfoii's " JMautI,*' 
was forgotten, and this gray-cved oiu^luintress, robud in 
white, crowned with ivy, danuini,' desperately the wiiole 
night long, set brain and heart reeling in the mad taran- 
tella of love. 

It was over at last. 'JMic gray and dismal dawn of the 
November morning stole chilly throuj^h the cnrtaincd 
casements. A half-l)]own rose from Miss Ilunsden's bon- 
quet bloomed in Sir Everard's button-hole, and it was Sir 
Everurd's blissful 2)rivi!ege to fold Miss Jliinsden's furred 
mantle around those pi-arly slioulders. 

Other beauties might droo}) and pale in the ghostly 
morning light, but, after eight hoiu's' consecutive danciiig. 
Miss llunsden*s roses were unwilLed. The bleak morning 
bree/o blew her perfumed hair across his eyes, as she leaned 
on his arm and he handed her into the (carriage. 

" Wo shall expect to see you at llunsden Hall," the In- 
dian ottlcer said, heartily. " Your fatht;r's son. Sir Ever- 
ard, will ever bo a most welcome guest." 

"Yes,'* said llarrie, leaning forward co(|uettislily, 
" come by and by and in(iuire how my health is after 
dancing all night. Etiijuette demands that much, and 
I'm a great stickler for eti<piette. " 

" Sir ]'iVerard would never have iliscovered it, J am cer- 
tain, my dear, if you had not told him." 

Sir Everard's blue eyes looked elo<|uently into tho spark- 
ling gray ones; his handsome, ha[>py face was all aglow. 

" A thousand thaidvsl I shall only be too delighted to 
avail myself of both invitations. Miss IFunsdcn, rimini- 
ber — yon said by and by, and by and by J shall come.'' 

Sir Everard went home to Kingsland (Jourt as he never 
had gone homo before. The whole world was coin'rur dc, 
rof'e — the bleak November morning and the desolate high- 
road — sweeter, brighter than the Elysian J^'ields. 

llow beautifid she wasi how the starry eyes had Hashed! 
how the rosy lips had smile;ll Half the men at the ball 
were madly in love with her, he knew; ami rJic — she had 
danced twice with him, all night, for once with any one 
else. 

It was a very silent drive. Lady Kingsland sat back 
among her wra))s in displeased sileiuic; Mildred never 
talked much« and the young baronet wa8 lodt in bliiuilul 



THE r.AROXET'R BRTDK. 



85 



'e» 



1,0 high- 



ecatesy a p^reat deal too iliiep for words, lie could not 
even ma^ liis mother was angry — he never gave one poor 
thought to Laily Louise. Jmmersod in the .suhiinio ego- 
tism of youth and love, the wliole world was bounded by 
Harriet Ilunstlen. 

Sybilla Silver was up and waiting in Lady Kingsland's 
dressing-room. A bright fire, and a cheery cup of tea, 
and a smiling face greeted her fagged ladyshii> with pleas- 
ant 8ur])rise. 

" lieally, Miss Silver,'* she said, languiillv, *' this ia 
very thoughtful of yoiu AVhere is my maid?" 

"Asleep, my huly. I 'ray let nu; fullill her duties this 
once. I hojK} you enjoyed the ball?'* 

"I never enjoye<l a ball ley^ in my life," my lady re- 
plied, sharply. ** l*ray make haste — I am iri no mood for 
talking." 

Sybilla's swift, deft fingers disrobed the moody lady, 
looser.ed the elal>orato structure of hair, brushed it out, 
arid pre])are<l my lady for bed; and ail the while she sat 
frowning angrily at the fire. 

" There wasay<«ung lady at the ball — a ^Fiss Jfiinsden,'* 
she said, at last, breaking out in 8[Mte of hcrodl — " anil 
the exhibition she rajule was ]>erfectly disgraeefid. Hold, 
odious little minx! Miss Silver, if you see my son before 
1 get uj) to-day, tell him J wish ])articularly for his com- 
pany at break fasL " 

" Ves, my lady,'* Miss Silver said, docilely; and my lady 
dki not see the smile that llickered and faded with the 
words. 

She understood it all perfectl}'. Sir Rverard had broken 
from the maternal apron-string, had deserted tin? standard 
of Lady Jjouise, and gone over to this '* bold, odious " 
Miss Ilunsden. 

Sybilla dutifully delivered the message the first time she 
met the baronet. A groom was lioidiiig Sir (lalahad, 
and his master was just vaulting into the saldle. lie 
turned away imjmtiently from the dar!. fnce and sweit 
voice. 

" It is imrjoasible this morning," ho said, sharply. 
** Tell Lady King^sland 1 ahall have the ])k'asure of meet- 
ing her at dinner." 

He rotle away a«» he sjMike, \siLh the sudden conseious- 
ucss that it was the tifit time he tmd that devoted mother 



' 



, 


I 






I 
1 


1} 


i, 


fi ^ 



I'' 5 1-1 



i- 



in K 






I 



ill ! 

u 



M 



THK lUUONEX'S lUUDE. 



Thinking of licv, ho thought-, of h»r 



kad oyer clashed, 
favorite. 

" She wants to read nie a firadn. T siip^ioso, about her 
pet, Latly Jj()iiis(i," ho snid to hiuifii^lf, nUhiT sullcudy. 
" Thijy would batljj:er xiie uiLo ni a fry lug her ii' they couid. 
J novcr cari'd two straws for the daiPihlur of J'larl Carteret; 
she is frightfully /'f^«••^'(V, and ehe'j three years older thaa 
1 am. 1 aru glad I did not commit mysell' irrevocably to 

i)lease my mother — a man bhuuid marry only to please 
limsolf. " 

8ir Everard readied llunsdon Hall in time for Iniuiheoa. 
The old ])laco looked deserted and ruined. The half-pay 
Indian ollieer's poverty was visible everywhere — in the 
time-worn I'luuiture, the neglected grounds, the empty 
stabJe^, and the meager stal! of old-time servants. J Jut 
the wealtiiy baronet surveyed tha imi)overisliod scene with 
a look of almost exultation. 

" Captain lliuisden is so poor that he will be ghwi to 
marry his daughter to the lirst rich man who asks her. 
The llunsden estate is strictly entailed to the next male 
lieir; he has only his pay, and she will be left literally a 
beggar at his death." 

llis eyes Hashed triumphantly at the thought. ITarrie 
ilunsden stood in the Hun.shine on the lawn, with half a 
eoore of dogs, big and little, boun(';ing around her, more 
lovely, it seemed to the infatuated young baronet, in hoi 
simple home-dress, than ever. Xo trace of yesterday's 
fatiguing hunt, or last night's fatiguing dancing, was visi- 
ble in that radiant face. 

Ihit just at that instant Captain Ilunsden advanced to 
me"*, him, with JiOrd Krnest Strathmore by his side. 

■' What brings that idiot here?"' Sir Everard thought. 
Lis f;\co ilarkenii^g. " ilow absurdly early he must have 
ridden over!" 

iUi turned to Miss Ilunsden and uttered the polite com- 
litonplnce pr(;5 er for the occasion, feeling more at a loss 
ill woi'h llian ever before in his life. 

" I t'jid you I never was fatigued,'* the young lady said, 
playirg with her dogs, and sublimely at her ease. " I am 
ready for a second hunt to-day, and a ball to-night, and a 
picnic the day after. I shoulil have been a boy. It's per- 
leotl/ absurd, my being a ndioulous ^irl, when I feel as it 






i 



i 



THH BAUONKT 8 BRIDE. 



87 



1 Qould had a forlorn hope, or, like Alexaudor, conquer a 
world. Comt' to liiiiolieon. '* 

" CoiKjuor u worlil — como to luuohoon? A pretty brace 
•f siibjoctsi" siiid lior rather. 

"31i8B iruriHileii is fjiiito ciipable of conquering a world 
withimb li;i\iiig becii buni unyibiiig so horrid as a boy/* 
Haid Lv)rd JOriiest-. '* Thcie iirc bloodless conquests, whero- 
io the conquerors of the world are coiKjuered theniselvea." 

The baronet scowled. Miss Hinisden retorted saucily. 
She and Lord Ernest ke])t u[) a brilliant wordy war. 

lie sat like a silunt fool— like an imbecile, ho said to 
himself, <;lowering malignantly. Hi^ was madly in love, 
and he was furiously jealous. Vi hat business had thin 
gingor-whiskercd young lordling interloping here? And 
how disgusLingly self-assured and at home he was! lie 
tried to talk to the ca[)tain, but it was a miserable failure, 
ke knew, with his ears strained listeniiig to them. 

It was a relief when a servant entered with the mail- 
bag. 

" The mail reaches us late,*' Captain llunsden said, as 
he openeil it. " 1 like my letters with my breakfast.'* 

" Any for me, papa?** Harriot asked, ' 3aking off in 
her llirtation. 

" One — from your governess in Par 
half a dozen for me.'* 

He glanced carelessly at the supersci 
them dowji. IJut as he took the last he 
his face turnetl livid; he stared at it --= 
into a death's-head in his hand. 

I'he two young men looked at him aghast. W.b daugh- 
ter rose up, vcrv pale. 

"Oh, papa-" 

8he stopped in a sort of breathless affright. 

Captain llunsden rose up. He made no apology. Ho 
walked to a window and tore open his 1( 'ter with passion- 
ate haste. 

His daughter still stood — pale, breathless. 

Suddejily, with a hoitrso, dreadful cry, he flung the let- 
ter from him, staggtred blindly, and full down in a fit. 

A girl'H shrill scream })ierced the air. ^She sprung for- 
ivard, ilirust the leUer into her bosom, kn^^dt besido he? 
lather, and lifted hiis huud. His face was dark purple, 



1 think — and 

ions as he laid 

tored a low cry; 

1 it had turned 



M 



[■* 



Hi 



' 



N^ 



88 



TiiK i;.\i:()NIi;t s i'.kidk. 



tho blood oozod in trickling stroanis from Ills moulh and 
nosfcrils. 

All was confusion. They bore him to liis room; a serv- 
ant was dii^nutched in mad hasto for a doctor. Jfarriot 
bent over him, white as death. Tho two young men 
waited, i)iile, alarmed, confounded. 

It was an hour ix'fore tho doctor came — another beforo 
he loft the sick man's room. As he dcparteil, Harriot 
U unsden gliiled into the apartment where the young men 
waited, white aj a spirit. 

" Jle is out of danger; ho is asleej). Pray leave us now. 
To-ijiorrow ho will be hiniiself a;.''ain. " 

Jt was (juite evident that she was used to these attacks. 
The young men bowed respectfully and departed; saluted 
each oth' - coldly, as rivals do salute, and rode oil in oppo- 
site directions. 

Sir Evnard was in little humor, as ho went slowly and 
moodily homeward, for his mother's lecture, lie was 
insanely jealous of Lord Ernest, and ho was amazed and 
confounded \v tho mystery of the letter. 

" There is some secret in Captain II unsden 's life," ho 
thought, " and his daughter shares it. Some secret, per- 
haps, of shame and disgrace — some bar siidster in their 
shield; anu, good heavensi I am mad enough to love her 
— 1, a Kingsland, of Kiiigsland, whoso name and escutcheon 
are without a blot! What do I know of her antecedents 
or his? My mother spoke of some mystery in his ])a8t 
life; and there is a look of settled gloom in his fiice that 
nothing seems able to remove. Lord Ernest Strathmorc, 
too — he must come to complicate matters. And he is in- 
iatuated with the girl — any one can see that. She is tho 
most glorious creature the sun shines on; and if I don't 
ask her to be my wife, she will bo my Lady Strathmore 
before the moon wanes!" 



CHAPTER XH. 



MISS nUNSDEN SAYS 



<( 



NO. 



j> 



Sir Evrrahd found his motlun* primed and loaded; but 
she nursed her wrath throughout dirmor, and it was not 
until they were in the drawing-room uloiie that she \vi;nt 
oil'. He was so moodily didraU all tlij-ough tho meal that 



THE J'.AIiONF.T'S I5RIDE. 



89 



he never saw the volcano smoldering, and the Vesuvian 
eruption tooic him altogether by surprise. Sybilla Silver 
saw the coming storm, and pricked up her ears in delight- 
ful expectation of a rousing scene; and quiet Mildred saw 
it, and shrunk sensitively. lUit both were spared the 
*• tempest in a tea-pot.'* The hail-storm of angry words 
clattered about the baronet's ears alone. 

" Your conduct has been disgraceful!" Laily Kingsland 
piissionately cried — " unworthy of a man of honorl You 
])jiy Ludy Louise every attention; you make love to her in 
the most proiumcc manner, and at the eleventh hour you 
desert her for this forward little barbarian." 

(Sir Evorard opened his large, blr^-, Saxon eyes in cool 
surprise. 

" NFy dear mother, you mistake," he sasd, with jjerfect 
Suva froid. " Lady Louise made love to me I" 

'' kverard!" 

Her voice absolutely choked with rage. 

" It sounds conceited and fop])ish, I know,'* pursued 
the young gentleman; '* but you force me to it in self-de- 
fense. I never made love to Lady Louise, as Lady Louise 
can tell you, if you choose to ask. ** 

" You never asked her in so many words, perhaps, to 
be your wife. Short of that, you have left nothing un- 
done.** 

Sir Everard thought of the dinner-party, of the moonlit 
balcony, of (reorge Grosvenor, and was guiltily silent. 

'* Providence must have sent him,** he thought, " to 
save me in the last supremo moment. Pledged to Lady 
Louise, and madly in love with Harriet Hunsden, 1 should 
blow out my brains before sunset!" 

" You are silent," pursued his mother. " Your guilty 
conscience will not let you answer. You told me yourself, 
only two days ago, that but for George Grosvenor you 
would have asked her to be your wife.'* 

" Quile true," responded hrr son; "but who knows 
what a day may bring forth? Two days ago I was willing 
to luarry Lady Louise — to ask her, at least. Now, not all 
the wealth of the Indies, not the crown of the world, coidd 
teni|)t me." 

" (iood heavens!*' cried my lady, goade<l to the end of 
her i):itioiic(^; " only hear him! Do you mean to ti-ll me, 
you absiu'd, mad-headed boy, that in one day you have 






1 1 






'• I 



THE nARONET\S BRIDE. 



! •'. 



It. 



I. ' il 



fallen hopelofsly in love with this hare-braiimi, nastiHine 
Harriet Jiunsdon?" 

Sir J']vorar(l's fair faco niishcd angry red. 

'* I tell you notliing of tho sort, niadamo; the iiifurenoo 
iR your own. Uut thid I will say — I would rather marry 
Harriet Jlunsden than any other woman under hcavonl 
She may bo wild, as you say — hani-braiiied, pi'rhajis (what- 
OTor that means) — but then 3'ou will reeolleut that she is 
but seventeen. When «ho is livo-and-twenty, she may be 
tiH sedate even as your model and favorite. If 1 prefer a 
girl of seventeen to a matur(* wonuin of twi-ntv-dve, eTon 
vou can hardlv blame me. Tiot Liidv Jjoiuse take (Jeorge 
Grosvenor. He is in love with liiw, which 1 nuver was; 
and he has an carl's coronet in piospectivo, which 1 have 
not. As for me, I have doiio with tin's subject at once and 
forever. Even to you, my mother, J can not delegate my 
choice of a wife.'* 

"I will never receive Harriet Hunsdon!" Lady Kings- 
land passionately cried. 

" Perhaps you will never have the opportunity. She 
may prefer to became mistress of Strath uiore Castle. 
Jjord Ernest is her mo:-'t devoted adorer. 1 have not asked 
her yet. The chances are a thousand to one she will re- 
fase when I do." 

His mother laughed scornfully, but her eyes were abliis«. 

"You mean to ask her, then?" 

" Most assin-edly." 

She laughed again — a bitter, mirthless laugh. 

" We go fast, my friend I Aiul you have hardly knowu 
this divinity four-and-twenty hours.'* 

" Love is not a plant of slow growtli. liike Jonah's 
gourtl, it springs uj), fully nuitured, in an hour." 

'■' Does it? My sou is better versed in amatory floricult- 
ure than 1 am. But before you ask Miss Huusden to be- 
come Lady Kingslaiid, had you not better incjuirc who her 
mother was?" 

The baronet thought of tho letter, and turned very pale. 

" Her mother? do not understand. What of her 
mother?" 

" Only this" — ^ Kingsland arose as she spoke, lier 
face de. J ' ' whit' . . pale eyes glittering — " the mother 
wamyi: .tnd a mystery. Keport says Captain ilunsden 
vfas mar ied in America — uc> one knows where — viod 



THE BAItONET'8 BlUDK. 



91 



America is a wMe jiluce. No ono ever saw the wifo; no 
one over lioaril ^rist- Ilimsleii ppiak of her niothor; no one 
evor hcaril of that niothiT's dcatli. I k'avi {Sir Kvorartl 
Kingslund to draw liitj own inftroiuu's.'* 

Slie swept from the room with u nii^lil.y i nstlo of silk. 
A dark ligure croucliin«i on tlu' mir, wilii it<: ear to the 
kcy-holo, ImrvU had tinio to whisk bihind a tall Indian 
cabinet as thi' door o])i iied. 

It was Miss Sybilhi Silver, who was ah'eady asserting her 
prontj^alive as aaialeur lady's-inaid. 

iMy hidy shut herself u[) in her own rooni for tlie ro- 
niaiiider of the evening, too anjj^ry and mortiJicd for wonln 
to tell. Jt was the lirst (jiiariel hlu! a?id her idolized Hon 
ever iiud, and thetlisup})ointmenL of all jor ambitious liopes 
left her miserable enoijpii. 

J»nt scarcely so miserable as Sir l-iVeiaiil. To be hoj)e- 
lessly in love on sneh thort notice was bad eiioii;.di; to have 
the dread of a rejte'ion htitiLdoij over hiiu was worse; lujt 
to have this dark myo'.cry k)o:nini; horriljly iii the horizon 
wan worst of all. 

ITis mother's insinuations alone would not. have dislurb- 
ed him; but those in.-inuatious, taken in uui>o!i with Cap- 
tain Ihuisden's mysterious illness of the morniiig, drove 
him nearly wild. 

"And I dare not even nhk," ho thought, " or set my 
doubts at rest. Any inf(M:ry from nu', b; fore })n)pnsin<^% 
would be im}»ertinent; aud after proposin;,^ they woulil be 
too late. Ihit one thinir I am certain of- -if 1 lose llarrio 
llunsden, I shall go mall'* 

Of course thia angry ruflling of love's current at the 
very outset only strengthenod the stream. Oppitsition left 
the young man tenfold more d(>ggedly in love than ever, 
and he strode uj> and down the drawing-room like a nielo' 
<lramalic hero, grinding his teeth and glaring at vacancy, 
and longing with a fi'-ree impntcn(.-y to run away wilh 
llarrio Jluns'icn to-nurrow, and never aak a question 
about her mother, and never see his own again. 

While he tore up and down like a caged tiger, the door 
softly opened and his siiter lot.ked in. 

"Alone, Kverard?" she said, timidly. "I thought 
mamma was with you. '* 

** Mamma has just gon« to her rocm in a blessed tcui 



ti 






) * 



■ 



93 



THE nARONKT S BR TDK. 



per," answcM'od lior IsroMuM', s;ivjij[j(!ly. " Como in, MiHy, 
iiiiil \\v\\) riio in this l)f)i."il»l(! scni|H<, iC you can." 

" Js it Honu'tiiiii;^' sil)!)nt — Miss Ifiinstle!i?" liesitaLingly. 
" I tlionglit Jiiamiuii looked disjileastul at iliimer. " 

" l)is))li'as((ll" exclaimed tlio y'»iMi<^ man, with a short 
liiii<>li; •* that isJ a iiiihl way of jmttiiijf it. Manirua i.s in- 
oliiii'd to phvy tlio (Jrand Mo;4ul in my case us slie did witli 
voii and poor Froil Doughis. " 
' " Oh, bi-'.thor!" 

Mildred Kingsland put out both hands and shrunk as if 
liu had struck hur. 

" Forgivo mo, Milly. I'm a brute and you^ro an angol, 
if there ever was one on oarLJiI Jiut I'vo been hectored 
and lectured, and badgered and bothered until I'm fairly 
beside mysidf. She wants me to marry Ijady Jiouisc, and 
J won't marry Lady Louise if she was the last woman 
lilive. Milly, who was ]\Iiss Hunsiiun's mother?" 

The murder was out. JIo stood still, glaring liorco iu- 
terrogation at his sister. 

" Jfer mother!"' I'm sure I don't know. T was (piito a 
little girl wluiu ('jij)tai;i ilunsden was hero before, and 
Ilarrie was a j)retty little curly-haired fniry of three years. 
I remember her so well. Captain Iluiisden dined liero 
ont.e or twice, and I recollect perfectly how gloomy and 
iriorose his nuuiner was. I was quite frightened at him. 
You wore at Kton then, you know." 

" 1 knowl" impatient!}'. " I wish to Heaven 1 had not 
been. ]5oy as 1 was, I should luive learned something. 
J)id you never hear the cause of the captain's abnormal 
gloonj?'^ 

" No; papa and mamma knew nothing, and C'aptaia 
llunsden ke])t his own secrets. They had hoard of his 
marriage some foiu' or live years before — a low marriage, 
it was rumored — an actress, or something etpially objec- 
tionable. Little Ilarrie knew nothing — at three years ic 
was hardly likely; but she never prattled of her mother as 
child 1 en of that ago usually do. There is some mystery 
tibotit Captain llunsden 's wife, Everaril, and — pardon mo 
-—if you like Miss Ilunsdeu, you ought to have it cleared 

Kverard laughed —a liarsli, strident laugli. 
" If I like Miss ilunxlen, my dear little non-committal 
Milly. Am 1 to go to llunsden Hull and say to iia mas- 



Tin: HAIiONKl's ItUIDK. 



U3 



not 



tor, * Tiook lu'i'o, (.'jiptuiii UtinhdiMi, j;mvo nio proofs o' y<»nr 
maniu^L' — l''ll inu all about your luyj'U'rioM.s wife You 
Imvo a vni'y liaiiiLsKino, hi^Mi-spiritcil diiiij^htcr, but brforo 
I <!ominiL inyrit'lf by fiillin-.j iu Jovo wiih Imr, I want to 
mako 8uro thiTO was no tarni-sb o!i fbo bitu Mrs. Huiih- 
(Uh'h \vi'tMiii;^'-ring. ' Caj'laiu IlaroKl lluiisdcii is a prouil 
man. How do you tbiiik bo will like Lbo htylu of llialj"' 

Mildred «lut»d sih^il,, b/okiii^j; ilisl-resaed. 

" 1 wisii I liad nianiod Lady Jiouiso u month n^o, and 
ir(»no out of ibu countryl" l)o burt^t out, vcbonusnt.lv. " 1 
sv'ish J bail noviM- soon tbis girl. Slu; is nviirylbing tliat is 
objriilionabk' — a balf-civilized nuid(:a[) — shrouded in niys- 
titcy and poverty — daniu;d over tho world in a bajrgJiK^!- 
Wii^'on. I bavu <|uarri'k'd with my molher for tiiu Jirst 
tiuif (*n lur aiH.'oMiil.. Jhit I lovu her — I lovo bur witb all 
my lu a.'t — and T shall go mad or shout myself if 1 don't 
make lu'i- my wiftfl" 

lie llunu bimvidf impetuously, Taeo downward, on tbo 
sofa. Mildreil stood pallid and seared in the miiklle (»f the 
lloDr, in tbe extnsmity of helpless distress. Oneu he lifted 
bis lunid and looked at her. 

" (io away, Milly!" ho auid, hoarsely. " I'm a savfti^u 
t(^ fri,i;;bten you so! Leave me; I shall be better alone." 

And iMiMrcd, not knowing in the lea^t what else to do, 
went. 

iNext. morning, liours before Lady Kingsland was out of 
bed, iiady King-land's sou was galloping over the bree/y 
iiills and golden downs. An hour's bard run, and ho 
made straight for ilimsden Hall. The hand ol fate drove 
him impetuously on, and he was powerless to resist. 

Miss Jfunsden was taking a constitutional up and down 
the terrace overlooking tho sea, witb thn-e big dugs. She 
turned round at Sir Everard's approaeh and greeted him 
cpiito eordially. She was rather pale, but perfeetly com- 
I)Osed. 

" Pa])a is SO much better this morning," she said, 
'* that lie is coming down to breakfast;, lie is subject to 
these attacks, ajid they never last long. Any exciting 
news overthrows him altogetber.' ' 

" That letter contained exciting news, then?" Sir Ever- 
ard eoidd not help saying. 

" 1 presume so — I diil not ^::iv] it. lli>w placid tbe sea 
looks this morning, aglitter m the sunligbi. And yet 1 



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94 



THE BAllOKET S BRIDE. 



have been in the middle of the Atlantic when the waves 
ia,n mountains high. " 

But the moody young baronet was not going to talk ot 
the sea. 

" You are quite a heroine, Miss Ilunsden, and a won- 
derful traveler for a seventeen-year-old young lady. You 
see, 1 know your age; but at ^Jeveiiteen a young lady does 
not mind, I believe. How long have you been in England 
this time?" 

lie spoke with careless adroitness; Miss Ilunsden an- 
swered, frankly enough: 

" Five months. You were abroad, I think, at the 
time.'' 

" Yes. And now you have come for good, I hope — as 
if Miss Hunsdcn could come for anything else.'' 

"It all depends on papa's health," replied Harriet, 
quietly ignoring the compliment. " I should like to stay, 
I confess. I ain very, very fond of England." 

"Of course — as you should be of your native place." 
He was firing nearer the target. 

" England is not my native place," said Harriet, calm- 
ly. " I was born ai; Gibraltar." 

" At Gibraltar! You surprise me. Of course your 
mother was not a native of Gibraltar?" 

His heart throbbed fast. Was he treading on forbidden 
ground? Would the great gray eves lla^li forked lightning 
as he knew they could Hash? No; Miss Hunsden heard 
the adroit question and made no sign. 

" Of course not. My mother was an American — born 
and bred and married in New York." 

Here was an explicit statement. His pulses stood still a 
moment, and then went on fast and furious. 

" 1 suppose you scarcely remember her?" 

" Scarcely," the young lady repeated, dryly; " sinoe I 
never saw her." 

"Indeed! She died then— " 

"At my birth— yes. And now. Sir Everard " — the 
brijrht, clear eyes Hashed suddenly full upon him — " is the 
catechism almost at an end?" 

He absolutely recoiled. If ever guilt was written on a 
human face, it was readily written on his. 

" Ah!" Miss Hunsilen said, scornfully, " you thought I 
couldn't find you out—you thought I couldn't see your 



G waves 

talk ot 

a won- 
. You 
,dy does 
i^Dglaud 

len an- 

at the 

ope — as 

Harriet, 
to stay, 

place. " 

t, calm- 

se your 

)rbiddeii 
glitning 
n heard 

a — born 

)d still a 

' sinoe I 



I "—the 
-" is the 

en on a 

liought 1 
see yout 



THE BAKONET^S BRIDE. 



05 



drift. Have a better opiuion of my fyowers of penetration 
next time, Sir Everard. My poor ftiilier, impoverished in 
purse, broken in health, sensitive iji spirit, cliooses to hide 
his wounds — chooses not to wear his hetirt on liis sleeve for 
the Devonshire daws to peck at — chooses never to speuk of 
his lost wife — and, lo! all the gossips of the country are 
agape for the news. She was an actress, was she not, Sir 
Everard? And when I ride across the country, at the heels 
of the hounds, it is only tlie spangles, and glitter, and the- 
ater glare breaking out again. 1 could despise it in others, 
but I did think better things of the son of my father's 
oldest friend! Good-morning, Sir Everard." 

She turned proudly away. In that instant, as she tow- 
ered above him, superb in her beauty and her pride, all 
other earthly considerations were swept away like cobwebs. 
If the world had been his, he would have laid it at her 
regal feet. 

" Stay, Harriet — Miss Hunsden! Stop — for pity's sake, 
stop and hear me! I have been presuming — impertinent. 
I have deserved your rebuke." 

" You have," she said, haughtily. 

" But 1 asked those questions because the nameless in- 
sinuations I heard drove me mad — because 1 love you, I 
worship you, with all my heart and soul. " 

Like an impetuous torrent the words burst out. He 
actually flung himself on his knees before her, in the boy- 
ish abandon of his love and delirium. 

" My beautiful, queenly, glorious Harriet! I love you 
as man never loved woman before!" 

Miss Hunsden stood aghast, staring, absolutely con- 
founded. The passionate words rained down upon her in 
a stunning shower. 

For one instant she stood thus; then all was forgotten in 
her sense of the ludicrous. She leaned agamat a tree, and 
set up a shout of laughter long and clear. 

*' Oh, good gracious!" cried Miss Hunsden, as soon as 
she was able to speak; " who ever head the like of this? 
Sir Everard Kingsland, get up. I forgiv^e you everything 
for this superhuman joke. I haven't had such a laugh 
for a month. Eor go -duess' sake get up, and don't be a 
goose!" 

The young baronet sprung to his feet, furious with 
mortification and rage. 



I 






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1.'! f 



I . 



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i I 



? I 






96 THE hakonet'r brtde. 

*' Miss Hunsden— *' 

"Oh, don't!" cried Harriet, in a second paroxysm. 
" Don't maice me ruj)ture an artery. Love me? — worship 
me? Why, yon ridiculous thing! you haven't known me 
two days altogether!" 

He turned away without speaking a word. A choking 
sensation rose up in his throat, for, poor fellow! he had 
been terribly in earnest. 

" And then you're engaged to Lady Louise! Every one 
says so, and I am sure it looks like it." 

" I am not engaged to Lady Louise." 

Ke said those words huskily, and he could say no more. 

Miss Hunsden tried to look grave, but her mouth 
twitched. The sense of the ludicrous overcame her sense 
of decorum, and again she laughed until the tears stood in 
her eyes. 

" Oh, I shall die!" in a faint whisper. " My sides 
ache. I beg your pardon. Sir Everard; but inde(}(l 1 can 
not help it. It is so funny!" 

" So I perceive. Good-morning, Miss Hunsden." 

'* And now you are angry. Why, Sir Everard!" catch- 
ing for the first time a glimpse of his deathly white face, 
"1 didn't think you felt like this. Oh! 1 beg your par- 
don with all my heart for laughing. I believe I should 
laugh on the scaffold. It's dreadfully vulgar, but it was 
born with me, I'm afraid. Did I gallop right into your 
heart's best aifections at the fox-hunt? Why, I thought 1 
shocked you dreadfully. I know 1 tried to. Won't you 
shake hands. Sir Everard, and part friends?" 

" Miss Hunsden will always find mo her friend if she 
ever needs one. Farewell!" 

Again he was turning awa}^ He would not touch the 
proffered palm. He was so deathly white, and his voice 
shook so, that the hot tears rushed into the impetuous 
Harrie's eyes. 

*' I am so sorry," she said, with the simple humility of 
a little child. " Please forgive me. Sir Everard. 1 know 
it was horrid of me to laugh; but you don't really care for 
me, you know. You only think you do; and I — oh! I'm 
only a flighty little girl of seventeen, and I don't love any- 
body in the world but papa, and 1 never mean to bo mar- 
I'ied— at least, not for ages and ages to come, 
me. '" 



1)6 forgive 



THE baronet's BKIDE. 



97 



lie bowed low, but he would neither answer nor take 
her hand. He was far too deeply hurt. 

Before she could speak a^'ahi he was gone. A moment, 
and he had vaultetl into the saddle and was out of sight. 

"And he's as mad as a hatter!" said Harrie, ruefully. 
*' Oh, dsar, dear! what torments men are, and what u bore 
falling in love is! And 1 liked him, too, better than any 
of them, and thought we were going to be brothers in 
arms — Damon and — what's his name? — and all that sort 
of thing! It's of no use my ever hoping for a friend. 1 
shall never have one in this lower world, for just so sure 
as I get to like u person, that person must go and fall hi 
love with me, and then we quarrel and part. It's hard." 

And Miss Hunsden sighed deeply, and went into the 
house. 

And Sir Everard rode home as if the fiend was after liim 
— like a man gone mad — flung the reins of the foaming 
horse to the astounded groom, rushed up to his room and 
looked himself in, and declined his luncheon and his din- 
ner, and would have blown his brains out if there had been 
a loaded pistol within the four walls. 

And the result of it all was /"^"^at when he came down to 
breakfast next morning, with a white, wild face, and livid 
rings round his eyes, he electrified the family by his abrupt 
announcement: 

" I start for Constantinople to-morrow. From thence I 
shall make a tour of the East. I will not return to Eng- 
land for the next three years." 



jt 



CHAPTER XHI. 

LYING IN EKITHLOW WOOD. 

A THUNDERBOLT falling at your feet from a cloudless 
8'ummer sky must be rather astounding in its unexpected- 
ness, but no thunderbolt ever created half the consterna- 
tion Sir Everard's fierce announcement did. They looked 
at him and at each other with blank faces — his was set, 
rigid, ghastly. 

"Going away!" his mother murmured — "going to 
Constantinople. My dear Evorurd, you don't mean it?" 

" Don't I?" he said, fiercely, "Don't 1 look as if T. 
meant it?" 






il8 



THE BAltONET 8 IIRIDE. 



1 ' 



', ! 



I ! 



" But what has hapi)ened? Oh, Everard, what does ^l 
this mean?" 

" It means, mother, that I am a mad, desperate and 
reokless man; that I don't care whether I ever return to 
England again or not/' 

Lady Kingshuurs own angry temper and imperious 
spirit began to rise. Her cheeks Hushed and her eyes 
ilaslied. 

" It means you arc a headstrong, selfisli, cruel boyi 
You don't care an iota what pain you inilict on others, if 
you are thwarted ever so dightly yourself. 1 have in- 
dulged you from your childhood. You have never known 
one unsatisfied wi^-h it was in my power to gratify, and 
this is my reward!'* 

Ho sat in sullen silence. He felt the reproach keenly m 
its sim2ile trutli; but his heart was too sore, tlie pain too 
bitter, to let him yield. 

'* You promise me obedience in the dearest wish of my 
heart,'* her ladyship wont on, ])assionately, heedless, now 
that her fiery spirit was fairly up, of the presence of Mil- 
dred and Sybilla, " and you break thtit promise at the firsc 
sight of a wild young hoidon in a hunting-field. It is o© 
her account you frighten me to death in this heartleee 
manner, because 1 refuse my consent to your consummat- 
ing your own disgrace." 

" My disgrace?" His blue eyes fairly blazed. ** Take 
care, mother!" 

"Do you dare speak in that tone to me?" She roat 
up from the table, livid with jxission. " 1 repeat it. Sir 
Everard Kingsland — your disgrace! Mystery shrouds this 
girl's birth and her father's marriage — if he ever was mar- 
ried—and where there is mystery there is guilt." 

"A sweeping assertion!" the baronet said, with god- 
oentrated scorn; "but in the present instance, my good 
mother, a little out of place. Tlie mystery is of your own 
making. The late Mrs. Harold Hunsden was a native of 
New Yovli. There she was married — there she died at her 
daughter's birth. Ca})tain Hunsden cherishes her memory 
all too deeply to make it the town talk, hence all tlio 
county is up agape inventing slander. 1 hope yon son 
satisfied?" 

Lady Kingsland stood still, gazing at him in her 
prise. 



THE BAMONET's bride. 



99 



a 



Take 



Who told you all this?" slie asktad. 

" yiio who had the beat right to kuovv — the slandered 
womaii'H daughter/' 

'Miuluud— indeed!'' slowly and soarchingly. "You 
have been talking to her, tliun? And your whole heart is 
re;Uly sot on this matter, Everard?" 

iSlie came a step nearer; her voice softened; she laid one 
sleiulor h:ind, with inlinite tenderness, on his shoulder — 
this inipotuous only son was so unspeakably dear to her. 

" What doe^ it matter?" he retorted, impatiently toss- 
ing back his bright, fair hair, his voice full of sharp in- 
ward pain. " For Heaven's sake, let me alone, mother!" 

" My boy " — a little tremor in my lady's steady voice — 
*' if you really love this wild girl so much, if your whole 
heart is set on her, I must withdraw my objections. I 
can refuse my dtirling nothing. Woo Harriet Uunsden, 
wed her, and bring her here. I will try and receive her 
kindly for your sake." 

Sir Everard Kingsland shook off the fair, white, caress- 
ing hand, and rose to his feet, with a harsh, strident laugh. 
^* You are very iiood, niy mother, but it is a little too late. 
Miss lluiisilun did me the honor to refuse me yesterday." 
' Kefuse you?" 

^he recoiled as if he had struck her. 

" Even so — incredible as it sounds! You see this little 
barbarian is not so keenly alive to the magnificent honor 
of an alliance with the house of Kingsland as some others 
are, and she said No plumply when I asked her to be my 
wife. Not only that, but laughed in my face for my pre- 
sumption." 

Again that harsh, jarring laugh rang out, and with the 
last word he strode from the room, olosing the door with 
an emphatic bang. 

Lady Kingsland sunk down in the nearest chair, per- 
fectly overcome, and looked at her daughter. Sybilla Sil- 
ver, with a strong inclination to laugh in their faces, raised 
her tea- cup, and hid a malicious smile there. 

" Refused him!** my lady murmured, helplessly. 
" Mildred, did you hear what he said?" 

'* Yes, mamma," Mildred replied, in distress. " She is 
a very proud girl — Harriet Hunsden. " 

*' Proud! Good heavens!" My lady sprung to her feet, 
goaded by the word. " The wretched little pauper! the 



I 



'h 



VI 



» 



100 



THE HAJiONKTB JJIilDE. 



lined ticrtied, uiKUviliziul, horriblo little wretolil What 
biisines.-j Ikis she with ])ri(lo — with nothing undur tiio sun 
to bu proud ol:' Uufiiso my .son! Oh, bIio ninst be mad, 
or H fool, or bollil I will novor forj^ivo hor as lonj; as I 
live; nor liini, citlu'r, for asking hur!" 

With which my lady Hung oiii; of tho apartment in u 
towering rage, and went up to her room and fell into 
hysterics and tho arms of her nnud on tho S[)ot. 

It was a day of ili.strefs at Kiiigsland Court — gloom antl 
despair reigned. Lady Kiiigsland, shut np in her own 
apartments, would not be comforted — and Sir Everard, 
busied with his preparations, was doggedly determined to 
carry out his designs. Sybilla was the only one who en- 
joyed the situation, and she did enjoy the prevailing dis- 
may with a keen enjoyment that seemed quite incredible. 

As she stood in tho front portico, early in the afternoon, 
humming jauntily an opera tune, a servant wearing tho 
Hunsdcn livery rode up to her and delivered a twisted 
note. 

" For Sir Everard," said tho man, and rodo away. 

Miss Silver took it, looked at it with one of her curious 
little smiles, thought a moment, turned, and carried it 
straight to my lady. My lady examined it with angry eyes. 

" From Miss Hunsdcn,'^ she said, contcmi)tuou8ly. 
" She rej)ents her hasty decision, no doubt, and sends to 
tell him so. Rold, designing creature! Find Sir Ever- 
ard 's valet. Miss Silver, and give it to him." 

Miss Silver did as rec] nested. Sir Everard was in his 
dressing-room arraying for dinner, and his j)ale face 
flushed deep red as he received the note. Did she repent 
— did she recall her refusali* Ho tore it open and literally 
devoured the contents. 

" Dear Sir Everard, — Please, jilease, please forgive 
me! Oh, I am so sorry I laughed and made you angry! 
But indeed I thought you only meant it as a joke. Two 
days is such a little while to bo acquainted before propos- 
ing, you know. Won't you come to see us again? Papa 
has asked for you several times. Pray j^ardon me. You 
would if you knew how penitent I am. 

' ' Yours remorsefully, 

"JIarrie Hunsden. 

"Hunsden Hal), Nov. 15th, 16-." 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



101 



Two 



lie read tho pitooiis, child isli little lettor over and over 
again until his face glowed. Jt takes but a morueiit to 
lift tliese impetuous, iuipul.sivo iiooplo from the dej)ths of 
despair to the apex of bli.ss. Jloim planted her siiining 
foot onee more on the baronet's heart. 

" I will go at once," he said, hiding away tho little 
])iid<;- tinted, violet-perfumed note very near Ins heart. 
" Common courtesy requires me to say farewell before I 
start for Constantinople. And the captain likofj mo, and 
ids inlhience is all-i)owerful with her, added the young 
man, somewhat inconseqnently, " and who knows — " 

lie did not finish the mental sentence. He rapidly com- 
pleted his toilet, hid his dimier-costumo under a loose rid. 
ing-Goat, ordered his horse, and set otl' hot foot. 

Of course, all the short cuts came in requisition. The 
path through lirithlow Wood was the path he took, going 
at full gallop. Lost in a deliciously hopeful reverie, he 
was half way through, when a hollow groan from the way- 
side smote his ear. 

" For God's sake," a faint voice called, " help a dying 
man!" 

The baronet stared around aghast. Right before him, 
under the trees, lay the jirostrate figure of a fallen man. 
I'o leap off his horse, to bend over him, was but the work 
of an instant. Judge of his dismay when he beheld the 
livid, discolored face of Captain liunsden. 

" Croat Heaven! Captain Hunsden! What horrible ac- 
cideiit is this?" 

The dulled eyes of the Indian officer sought his face. 

" Sir Everard,*' he murmured, in a thick, choking tone, 
" go — tell Ilarrie — poor Harrie — " 

His voice died away. 

** Were you thrown from your horse? Were you way- 
laid?" asked the young man, thinking of his own recent 
adventure. 

" One of those apoplectic attacks. I was thrown. Tell 
Harrie — " 

Again the thick, guttural accents failed. 

Sir Everard raised his head, and knelt for a moment be- 
wildered. How should he leave him here alone while he 
went in search of a conveyance? 

Just then, as if sent directly by Providence, the Rever- 



11 

■J , 



lit, 

il 



LM 



103 



TUT. BATJONF.T S TITITDK 



end Cyrna Orooii, in ]ii« lij;lit clmiso, drovo into tho vrood- 
Itmd ])iith. 

*' ][i'jivon 1)0 praised I" cried tlio ])!ironot,. " I was won- 
doriiig vvhiit I .should do. A droiidl'id a(X!idonfc hua faiip- 
j)()n(!(l, Mr. (ireen. C'ii])tiiin Jfnnwlon lias had a Tall, and 
is vory ill.'* 

'I'lio rL'(!tor got out, in consternation, and bent abovo tho 
prostrate man. Tho captain's fa(!o had turned a dull, 
livid huo, his eyes had closed, his breathing canie hoarse 
and thick. 

"Very ill, indeed," said tho clergyman, gravely — "so 
ill that I fear he will never be better. liCt us phuio him 
in the chaise, Sir Everard. J will drive slowly, and do you 
ride on to Hnnsden llall to prepare his daughter for the 
shook. ' ' 

Tho Indian oHicor was a stalwart, powerful num. It 
was tho utmost their united strength could do to lift hiiu 
into the chaise. He lay awfully corpse-like among the 
eushions, rigid and stark. 

" liide — ride for your life!'* the rector said, " and dis- 
patch a serv.'int for the family doctor. 1 fear the result 
of this fall will be fatal.'* 

He needed no second bidding; he was off like the wind. 
8ir (lalahad sprung over the ground, and reached Hvins- 
den in an incredibly short time. A Hying iigure, in wifd 
ularm, came down the avenue to meet him. 

" Oh, Sir Everard!'' Harrie panted, in alTright, " where 
»s papa? He left to go to Kingsland Court, and Starlight 
has come galloping back riderless. Something awful has 
happened, l know!" 

He looked down upon her with eyes full of passionate 
love. How beautiful she looked, with her pale, upraised 
face, her wild, alTrighted eyes, her streaming hair, her 
clasped hands. 

His num's heart burned within him. He wanted to 
catch her in his arms, to hold her there forever — to shield 
her from all the world and all worldly sorrow. 

Something of what he felt must have shone in his ardent 
eyes. Hers dropped, and a bright, virginal blush dyed for 
the first time cheek and brow. Jle vaulted oil' his horse 
and stood uncovered before her. 

" Dear Miss Hunsden,'* he said, gently, " there has 



THE baronet's BKFDi:. 



108 



Jt 



eeon an accident. I am sorry to bo the buaror of ill nowa, 
but don't bo alarmed — all may yet bo wuU/' 

" I'apa!" alio barely gas])e(l. 

*' lie has niut with an acuidoiit — a sooond apoploiitic lit. 
1 Unind liini lyiti"- in Britlilow Wood. Ho liad failrn I'roru 
iiis liortio. Mr. dreon is i'elcliiiiy liini horo in his cliaiso. 
Tlioy will arrive presently. You liail butter have his rooia 
prepared, and I — will J ride for your ])liysioian myself?" 

►She leaned against a tree, sick and taint. Jlejuadea 
stop toward her, but she rallied and motioned him (»ir. 

" No," she said, " lot mo be! J)on't ^o. Sir Kverard — 
remain hero. I will send a servant for the doetor. (Jh, I 
dreaded. this! I warned iiim when ho left this artcrnooBij 
but he wanted to sec you so mueh.'^ 

She left him and liurried into the house, dispatched a 
man on horseback for the doctor, and j)repared her fa- 
therms room. 

In tiiteen minutes the doctor's pony-chaise drove up. 
lie and the baronet and the butler assisted the strickoH. 
and insensible man up to his room, and laid him upon tho 
bed from which ho was never more to rise. 



CHAPTEU XIV. 

THE captain's LAST NKiHT. 

The twilight was falling, ghostly and gray. A. long, 
lamentable blast worried the strip})ed trees and drove tho 
dead leaves before it in whirling drifts. 

A pale young crescent moon rose watery in the bleak, 
starless sky; down on tlio shore tho Hood tide boat its 
hoarse refrain, and in his chamber Harold Godfrey Huns- 
den lay dying. 

They knew it — the silent watchers in that somber room 
— his danghter, and all. She knelt by the bedside, her 
face hidden — not weeping; still, tearless, stunned. Sir 
Everard, the doctor, the rector, silent and sad, stood 
around. 

The dying man had been aroused to full coasciousness 
at last. One hand feebly rested on his daughter's stricken 
young head, the other lay motionless on the counterpane. 
His dulled eyes went aimlessly wandering. 

" Doctor!" 

The old physician b.nt over him* 



m 



1 


i' 

111 



104 



THK PAIiONKTS r.UIDE. 



up 



" Itow loii^?" lio j>iiuseil — *' how lon^ am 1 luat?" 

*' My (lojir /rloiKl — " 

"How loiif^'i"" tlio Iiuliiin oUicor imputiontly saicU 
''Quiolv! tho truth! how hmg?" 

*' Until to-morrow." 

'♦Ah!" 

Tho hiwid lying on llarric's chirk curls luy more hcivvily 
perhaps — that waa all. 

" Is there anything you wish? anything you want done? 
any person you woulil like to see?*' 

" Yes/* the (lying man answered, life suddenly leaping 

I in his gla/.ing uyes — '* yes, Sir Everard Kingsland. 

" Sir Kverartl Kingsland is here.*' 

lie motioned tho baronet to ai)proach, retreating him- 
self. 

Sir Everard bent over him. 

"Send them away," said tho sick man. "Both. 1 
want to s])eak to you alone." 

" Even in that Bui)rcmo moment — in the awful presence 
of death — the lover's heart bounded at the wordo tho dying 
man might say. 

lie delivered tho message, and tho rector and doctor 
went into tho passage to wait. 

" Come closer," the captain said, and the young baronet 
knelt by the bedside, opposite Ilarrie, " and tell the truth 
to a dying man. ilarrie, my darling, are you listening?" 

" Ves, papa." 

She lifted her jiale young face, rigid in tearless despair. 

" My own dear girl, 1 am going to leave a little soonei 
than I thought. I knew my death would be soon and sud- 
den, but I did not expect it so soon, so awfully sudden as 
this!" llis li2)S twitched spasmodically, and there was a 
brief pause. " 1 had ho2)ed not to leave you alone and 
friendless in tho world, i3enniless and unprotected. I 
hoped to live to see you the wife of some good man, but it 
is not to be. God wills for the best, my darling, and to 
Him I leave you." 

A dry, choking sob was the girl's answer. Ilor eyes 
were burning and bright. The captain turned to the im- 
patient, expectant young baronet. 

*' Sir Everard Kingsland," he said, with a painful effort, 
"you are the son of my old and much-valueil friend; 
therefore 1 speak. My near approach to eternity lifts me 



■'tLi 



THF 1^AIJ(»N"KT M HUIDR. 



10ft 



ftbovo the minor ooiisiilctrations of time. Yostonliw morn- 
i?i<,S from y()iHl(M' wiiidovv, 1 huw you oii tho torruco with 
my (iiiii;.'hU!r. " 

'J'ho barom^t ^n'usped liis luiiid, liia faco lliishotl, ]iia 03'03 
aglow. Oh, Hiircly, tiiK iiour of liis revviiid liiul (uimo! 

" ^'^011 made lior an olTor of your hiind and iieart?" 

*' \Viii(!li sho ntl'u.sod," llio younj"; mail said, with a 
f^lanco of uuiittorabli! ru2)roa(!h. " Yob, sir; and I lovo her 
with my wholo lioart!" 

JmpotuoUvS two-and-twonty! TTo for<,n)t tlio doath-bed; 
he forjrot ovorythiiii,' earthly, Imt tlial lii.s bliss or despair 
/or lifo was sliil'ting in the Ijalaiicu. lie looked aerosa with 
giuvviiii^ eyes. 

'* I thought so," very faintly. " Why did you refuae, 
Hiirrie?" 

" Oh, pupal" Shi) covorcul her face with her hands, in 
maidenly ^hame, from l;pr lover's radiant eyes. " Why 
ant we talUinir of this now?" 

" J)i!oause 1 am going to leave vou, my daughter. Be- 
cause I would not leave vou aloiu'. Why did you refuse 
yirKverard:-"' 

" Papa, 1 — I. only knew him such a little while." 

" And that is all.^ You don't dislike him, do you, my 
pet?" 

She Hushed all over. They eoidd see " beauty's bright, 
transient glow " through the hiding hands. 
No-o, papa.'' 

And you don't like any one elbo better?" 
Papa, you know 1 don't." 

My own spotless darling! And you will let Sir Ever- 
ard love you, and be your true and tender husband?" 

" Oh, papa, don't!" 

She Hung herself down with a vehement cry. But Sir 
Everard turned his radiant, hopeful, impassioned face 
upon the Indian othcer. 

" For God's sake, plead my cause, sir! She will listen 
to you. I love her with all my heart and soul. I will be 
miserable for life without her." 

" Y"ou hear, Ilarrie? 'This vehement young wooer — 
make him ha[)py. Make me ha[)py by saying ' Yes.' '' 

She looked up with the wild glance of a stag nt bay. 
For one moment her frantic idea was llight. 

"My love— my life!" Sir j*>,'erard caught both her 






I 



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i^ 



^1 



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106 



THE BARONET'S BRIDE. 



hands across the bed, and his voice was hoarse with, its 
concentrated emotion. " You don't know how I love you. 
If you refuse I sliall go mad. I will be the truest, the 
tenderest husband ever man was to woman. '' 

The great gray eyes flashed from one to the other. She 
looked like a creature out of herself. 

'* I am dying, Ilarrie," her father said, sadly, '* and 
you will be all alone in this big, bad world. But if your 
heart says * No,' my own best beloved, to my old friend's 
son, then never hesitate to refuse. In all my life 1 never 
thwarted you. On my death-bed I will not begin." 

" What shall 1 do?" she cried. " What shall 1 do?" 

" Comment!" her lover whispered, deathly j^ale with his 
supreme suspense. 

'* Consent!" Her father's anxious eyes spoke the woi*d 
eloquently. 

»he looked from one to the other — the dying father, the 
handsome, hopeful, impetuous young lover. Some faint 
thrill in her heart answered his. Girls like daring lovers. 

She drew her hands out of his clasp, hesitated a mo- 
ment, while that lovely, sensitive blush came and went, 
then gave them suddenly bacii of her own accord. 

He grasped them tight, with an inarticulate ery of 
ecstasy. For worlds he could not have spoken. The 
clying face looked unutterably relieved. 

" That means * Yes,' Harrie?" 

** Yes, papa." 

"ThpnkGod!" 

He joined their hands, looking earnestly at the young 
man. 

" She is yours, Kingsland. May God deal with you as 
you deal with my orphan child!" 

*'Amen!" 

Solemnly Sir Everard Kingsland pronounced his own 
eoudeninotion with the word. Awfully came back the 
memory of that adjuration in the terrible days to come. 

" She is very young," said Captain Hunsden, after a 
pause — " too young to marry, ^'oti must wait a year. " 

"A year!" 

Sir Everard repeated the word in consternation, as if it 
liad been a century. 

*' Yes," said the captain, firmly. ** A year is not too 
long, and she will onlj be eighteen then. Let her retsrn 



i I 



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TTTE baronet's TIRTDE. 



107 



to her old penftion in Paris. Slio sadly needs the help of 
a finishing school, my poor littie girl! My will is made. 
The little 1 leave will suflici^ for her wants. Mr. (Jroen is 
her guardian — he understands my wishes. Oh, my lad!" 
with an elociuent, fatherly cry, " you will be very good t© 
my friendless little llarrie! She will have but you in dfio 
w*de world." 

** I swear it. Captain Hunaden! It will be my blisvS a»d 
my honor to make her my happy wife.'' 

'" I believe you. And now go — go both, and leave me 
alone, for I am very tired. '* 

Sir Kverard arose, but Harrie grasped her father's cold 
hand in terror. 

" K^o, no, papa! 1 will not leave you. Let me stay. I 
wfll be very quiet — I shall not disturb j'ou. '* 

" As you like, my dear. She will call you, Kingslan«l, 
by and by. " 

The young man left the room. Then Harriet lifted a 
pale, reproachful face to her father. 

** Pupa, how could you?" 

*' My dear, you are not sorry? You will love this yoimg 
maa very dearly, and he loves you." 

" But his mother. Lady Kingsland, detests me." And, 
wiA a sudden npreariug of the proud little head, a sudden 
fia^ of the imperious gray eyes, " I want to enter bo 
man's house unwelcome.'' 

** My dear, don't be hasty. How do you know Lady 
Kingsland detests you? That is impossible, I think. She 
wili be a kind mother to my little motherless girl. Ab, 
piufnl Heaven! that agony is to come yet!" 

A spasm of jiain convulsed his features, his brows knit, 
his eyes gleamed. 

" Harne," he said, hoarsely, grasping her hands, ** I 
have a secret to tell you — a horrible secret of guilt and dis- 
grace! It has blighted my life, blasted every hope, turned 
the whole world into a black and festering mass of cor- 
ruption! And, oh! worst of all, you must })ear it — yo«r 
life must be darkened, too. But not until the grave has 
closed over me. My child, look hero." 

He drew out, with a painful effort, something from be- 
neath his pillow and handed it to her. It was a letter, ad- 
dressed to herself, and tightly sealed. 

'* M? secret is there." hie whispered — ** the secret it 



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108 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



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J.' 



would blister my lips to tell you. "When yoii are safe with 
Madame Beaufort, in Paris, ojjeu and read this — not be- 
fore. You promise, Harrie?" 

" \nything, pajja — everything!" She hid it away in 
her Dosom. " And now try to sleep; you are talking a 
great deal too much. " 

" Sing for me, then." 

She obeyed the strange request — he had always loved to 
hear her sing. She commenced a plaintive little song, and 
before it was finished he was asleep. 

All night long she watched by his bedside. Kow he 
slept, now he woke up fitfully, now he fell into a lethargic 
repose. The doctor and Sir Everard kept watch in an ad- 
joining chamber, within sight of that droo])ing, girlish 
form. 

Once, in the small hours, the sick man looked at her 
clearly, and spoke aloud: 

' Wake me at day-dawn, Harrie. " 

*' Yes, jxipa." 

And then he slept again. The slow hours dragged away 
— morning was near. She walked to the window, drew the 
curtain and looked out. Dimly the pearly light was creej)- 
ing over the sky, lighting the purple, sleeping soa, bright- 
ening and brightening with every passing second. 

She would not disobey him. She left the window and 
bent over the bed. How still he lay! 

"Papa," she said, kissing him softly, *'day is dawn- 



f> 



mg. 

But the cajjtain never moved nor spoke. And then 
Harriet Hunsden knew the everlasting day had dawned 
for him. 



CHAPTER XV. 

THE DEAD MAN'S SECRET. 

It was a very stately ceremonial that which passed 
through the gates of Hunsden Hall, to lay Harold Godfrey 
Hunsden's ashes with those of many scores of Hunsdens 
who had rcnc before. 

K.I 

The hoir at law — an imi)Overishcd London swell — was 
there in sables and sweeping hat-band, exulting inwardly 
that the old chap had gono at last, and " the king had got 
his own again." 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



109 



m 



he 



Sir Everard Kingsland was there, conspicuous and in- 
teresting in his new cai)acity of betrothed to the dead man's 
daughter. 

And the dead man's daughter herself, in trailing crape 
and sables, deathly pale and still, was likewise there, cold 
and rigid almost as the corpse itself. 

For she had never shed a tear since thnt awful moment 
when, with a wild, wailing cry of orphanage, she lial Hung 
herself down on the dead breast as the new day dawned. 

Pale, tearless, rigid, she sat beside that ghastly clay, 
st'mned, benumbed, with all the keen after-agony of lone- 
liness and sorrow to come. She had loved her soldier- 
father with an entire and intense love, and he had gone 
from her so awfully, so suddenly that she sat dazed under 
the blow. 

The day of the funeral was one of ghostly gloom. The 
November wind swept icily over the sea with a dreary wail 
of winter; the cold rain beat its melancholy drip, drip; sky 
and earth and sea were all blurred and blotched in a clammy 
mist. 

White and wild, Harriet Ilunsden hung on her lover's 
arm while the lieverend Cyrus Green solemnly read the 
touching burial service, and Ilaiold Ilunsden was laid to 
sleep the everlasting sleep. 

And then, through wailing wind and driving rain, she 
was going back to the desolate old home — oh, so horribly 
desolate now! She looked at his empty chamber, at his 
vacant chair, at his forsaken bed. Her face worked; with 
a long, anguished cry she Jlung herself on her lover's 
breast and wept the rushing, passionate tears of seventeen 
— wept wildly and long the impetuous, blessed tears that 
keep youthful hearts from breaking. 

He held her there as reverently, as tenderly as that dead 
father might have done, letting her cry her fill, smoothing 
the glossy hair, kissing the slender hands, calling her by 
names never to be forgotten while one pulse of life should 
beat. 

" My darling — my darling! my bride — my wife!'* 

She lifted her face at last and looked at him as she never 
had looked at mortal man bcfoi'e. In that moment he had 
his infinite reward. She loved him as only these strong- 
hearted, passionate women can love — once and forever. 



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110 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



" Lovo me, Everiird," she whispered, holding him close, 
" I have uo one in the world now but you." 

* -IJ -i: * .-(s 5l« * 

That night Ilarrie Iluusden left the old home forever. 
The Kevorend Cyrus drove her to the rectory in the rainy 
twilight, tind still her lover sat by her side, as it was his 
blisrif ul privilege to sit. She clung to him now, in her new 
desolation, as she might never have learned to cling iu 
happier times. 

The rector's wife received the young girl with opea 
arms, and embraced her with motherly heartiness. 

•■'My poor, pale darling!" she said, kissing the ^tMA 
eheeks. '* You must stay with us until your lost roBow 
eome blooming back. " 

Bat Ilarrie shook her head. 

" 1 will go to France at once, please," she said, mo»K»- 
fuily. " Madame Beaufort was always good to me, audit 
was his last wish. " 

Her voice choked. She turned away her head. 

" It shall bo as you say, my dear. But who is to take 



you 



V' 



" Mrs. Ililliard, and — I think— Sir Everard Kingsland;'* 

Mrs. Hilliard had been housekeeper at Hunsden HaiH, 
and was a distant relative of the family. Under the nejwr 
dynasty she was leaving, and had proffered her services £0 
escort her young mistress to Paris. 

The IJeverend Cyrus, who hated crossing the chanjwA, 
had closed with the offer at once, and Sir Everard was to 
play protector. 

One week Miss Hunsden remained at the rectory, fortu- 
Mately so busied by her preparations for departure that »o 
time was left for brooding over her bereavement. 

And then, in spite of that great trouble, there wae a 
sweet, new-born bliss flooding her heart 

How good ho was to her — her handsome young lover — 
how solicitous, how tender, how devoted! She could Isd^ 
her hand shyly on his shoulder, in these calm twilights, 
and nestle down in his arms, and feel that life held some- 
thing unutterably sweet and blissful for her still. 

As for Everard, lie absolutely lived at the rectory. He 
rode homo every night, and he mostly breakfasted at tSie 
Court; but to all intents and purposes he dwelt at the par- 
sonage. 



THE baronet's BHIDE. 



Ill 



fM 



•' Where the treasure is, thei-o will the heart be also;" 
ancl my lady, now that things wore settled, and the jour- 
ney to Constantinople postponed indellnitely, had sunk into 
a state of sulky displeasure, and was satirical, and scorn- 
ful, and contemptuous, and stately, and altogether exquis- 
itely disagreeable. 

Lady ijouise had left Devonshire, and gone back to shiae 
brilliantly in London society once more. 

Miss liunsden went to France with the portly old house- 
keeper and the devoted younc baronet. Mnie. Beaufort 
received her ex-pupil with very French effusion. 

" Ah, my angel! so pale, so sad, so beautiful! I am 
distracteil at the apjKjarance! But we will restore yow. 
Tiio change, the associations — all will bo well in time.'* 

The lonely young creature clung to her lover with ])as- 
aionate abandon. It was their first separation since her 
father's death. 

"Don't go back just yet, Everard," she implored. 
'' Let me get used to being alone. When you are with 
me I am content, but when you go, and I am all alone 
among these strangers — " 

Her falling tears, her clinging arms pleaded for her 
more eloquently than words. 

lint he needed no pleading — he loved her entirely, de- 
votedly, lie promised anything — everything! He would 
remain in Paris the whole year of probation, if she wished, 
that he might see her at least every week. 

8ho let him go at last, and stole away in the dusky 
gloaming to her allotted little room. 8he locked the door, 
sat down by the table, laid her face on her folded arms, 
and wet them with her raining ^^ears. 

*' I loved him so!'' she thought — " my precious father! 
J Oh, it was hard to let him go! '* 

^ She cried until she could licerally cry no longer. Then 
slio arose. It was quite dark now, and she lighted her 
lamp. 

" I will read his letter," she said to herself — " the letter 
he left for me. I will learn this terrible secret that 
blighted his life." ^ 

There was her writing-case on the table. She opened it 
with a little bright key attached to her watch-guard, and 
took out the letter. She looked sadly at the superscription 
a moment, then reverently opened it and began to read. 



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THE baronet's BRIDE. 



*' It will bo like his voice speaking to me from the 
grave/' siie thought. " My own tie voted father!" 

J [all an hour passed. The letter was long and closely 
wi-itton, and the girl read it slowly from beginning to end. 

With the first page every trace of color had slowly faded 
from her face; her eyes dilated, hor form grew rigid as she 
sat. JUit she steadily read on. She finished it at last. 

it dropped in her lap. She sat there, staring straight 
bofore hor, with an awful, fixed, vacant stare. Then she 
arose slowly, mechanically placed it in the writing-case, 
relocked it, put her hand, to her head confusedly, and 
turned witli a bewildered look. 

llcr face Hushed dark red; the room was reeling, the 
walls rocking dizzily. She made a step forward with both 
hands blindly outstretched, and fell headlong to the fioor. 

Next morning Sir Everard Kingsland, descending to his 
hotel breakfast, found a sealed note beside his plate. lie 
oprjied it, and saw it was from the directress of the Fen- 
sionnat ties Demoiselles. 

" Monsieur, — It is with regret I inform you Mademoi- 
selle Hunsden is very ill. When you left her last evening 
she ascended to her room at once. An hour after, sitting 
in an apartment underneath, I heard a heavy fall. I ran 
up at once. Mademoiselle lay on the fioor in a dead swoon. 
1 rang the bell; I raised her; 1 sent for the doctor. It 
was a very long swoon — it was very difficult to restore her. 
Mademoiselle was very ill all night — out of herself — deliri- 
ous. The doctor fears for the brain. M\, mo7i Diim! it 
is very sad — it is deplorable! We all weeji for the poor 
Mademoiselle Hunsden. I am, monsieur, with profound- 
est sentiments of sorrow and pity, 

"Marie Justine Celi;ste Beaufort." 

The young baronet waited for no breakfast. He seized 
his hat, tore out of the hotel, sprung into a fiacre, and was 
whirled at once to the pension, 

Madame came to him to the jDarlor, her lace handker- 
chief to her eyes. Mademoiselle was very ill. Monsieur 
could not see her, of course, but he must not despair. 

Doctor Pillule had hopes. She was so young, so strong; 
but the shock of her f jither's death must jiave been preying 
on her mijid. Madame's sympathy was inexpressible. 

Harriet lay ill for many days — delirious often, murmur- 



] i 






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THE IJAUONET's lUUDE. 



lU 



ing things })ltijibly small, calling on hor father, on her 
lover — sometimes on her horses and dogs. Madame and 
iier satellites tended hor with unremitting care. Tho 
physician was skillful, and life won the battle. JJut it was 
a weary time before thoy let her descend to the i)arlor to 
see that imi)atient lover of hers, who, half mad with sus- 
pense and anxiety, haunted tho house like a ghost. 

It was very near Christnuis, and there was snow on the 
ground, when she came slowly down one evening to see 
him. Uii sat alone in the prime salon, whore the porcelain 
stove stood, with its handful of fire, looking gloomily out 
at the feathery Hakes whirling through the leaden twilight. 
He turned round as she glided in, so unlike herself, so like 
a spirit, that his heart stood still. 

'* My love! my love!" 

It was all he could say. lie took her in his arms, so 
worn, so wasted, so sad; wan as the lluttering snow with- 
out. All his man's heart overllowed with iniinite love and 
pity as he held that frail form in his strong clasp. 

" Dear Everard, 1 have been so ill and so lonely; 1 
wanted you so much!" 

And then she sighed wearily, heavily, and laid her head 
on his shoulder, and was very still, lie drew her to him 
as if he would never let her go again. 

" If I could only be with you always, my darling. It is 
cruel to keep us apart for a year." 

" It was poor i)apa's wish, Everard. Ah, poor, poor 
papa!" 

The unutterable compassion, tho despairing sorrow of 
that cry — he could not understand it. He was inclined to 
be a little jealous of that deathless love — he wanted that 
heart to hold no image but his own. 

Presently madnmc came in, and there were lights, and 
bustle, and separation. Mile. Ilunsden must not renuiin 
too long, must not excite herself. Monsieur must go away, 
and come again to-morrow. 

*' I will let her see you every day, poor homesick child, 
until she is well enough to go into the dassc and commence 
her studies. Then, not so often. But monsieur will be 
gone long before that!" 

" No," Sir Everard said, distinctly. *' I remain in 
Paris for the winter. 1 trust to madame's kind heart to 
permit me to see Miss Hunsden often." 



f 






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THE BARONET'S BRIDE. 



*' Often! Ah, vtou fJieuf liow you Eugllsh ure impctu- 
onti! so — how do you call him? — unreusoiiublo! Monaieur 
mity seo iiiudomoiseilo in thu suloii every Saturday ai'te*'- 
noon — not ot'touor. '' 

Mouaiour pleudod. Mutlanie was inexorable. It was tlie 
rule of the school, and as unalterable as tho laws of Ih'aoo. 
Harrie herself indorsed it. 

•'It is better so, Kvorard. 1 want to study — Heaven 
knows I need it! and your frequent visits would distraut 
me. Let once a week sutlico.*' 

felir Everard 3'^ielded to the inevitable with Jho best gi'aco 
possible. He took his leave, raising Harriet's hand to liis 
%)s, and looking reproachfully at madame for standiiag 
by. But nuidanie was a very dragon of j)ropriety whe^'e 
mm' pupils were concerned. 

Harrie lingered by the window lor a moment, looking 
wstf ully after the slender tigure,- and slow, graceful walk. 

" If ho only knew!" she murmured. " If he only know 
l^e terrible secret that struck mo down that night! Bnt 
i dare not tell — I dare not, even if that voice from the doa«l 
Jdad not forbidden me. ] love him so dearly — so dearly! 
Ak, i)itiful Lord! let him never know! If I lost him, too, 
:F^hould die!" 



CHAPTER XVI. 

THE baronet's BRIDE. 

Tup: winter months wore by. Spring came, and tJiiM. 
that most devoted of lovers. Sir Eveiard Kingsland, ]«4- 
gered in Paris, near his gray-eyed divinity. His life was 
no dull one in the gayest ca])ital of Europe. He had hosts 
of friends, the purse of Fortunatus, tho youth and beauty 
'. «sf a denu-god. Brilliant Parisian belles, flashing in an- 
< costral diamonds, with the blue blood of the old rcfjlme m 
their delicate veins, showered their brightest smiles, theii- 
most entrancing glances, upon the handsome young E«i- 
glishman in vain. His loyal heart never swerved in its al- 
legiance to his gray -eyed (^ueen — the love-light that lighted 
her dear face, the warm, welcoming kiss of her cherry lijis, 
were worth a hundred Pa;'isian belies with their ducal coats 
of arms. " Faithful and true " was the motto on his seal; 
faithful and true in every word and thought — true as the 
needle to the North Star — was he to the ludy of his love. 



TH K B A WO N KT iS P. I ! I Di;. 



lift 



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Tlio weeks went, swiftly and jjlcusaiitly enough; but his 
red-letter duy was the Saturday afternoon that brought him 
to his darling. And she, buried among her dry-aa-dast 
sohool-books and classic lore — how siie look'ed forward to 
the weekly day of grace no words of mine can tell. 

But with the tirst bright days of April canio a change. 
He was going back to Englantl, he told her, one Saturday 
afternoon, as they sat, lover-liice, side by side, in the i)riiii 
fculon. She gave a low cry at the words, and looked nt 
him with wild, wide eyes. 

" Going to England! Going to leave mo!" 

" My dearest, it is for your sake I go, and I will bo goo© 
but a little while. The end of next October our long year 
of waiting ends, and before the Christmas snow ilies, my 
darling must be all my own. It is to j)iepare for onr mar- 
riage 1 go." 

She hid her glowing face on his shoulder. 

*' I would make Kingsland Court a very Paradise, if I 
could, for my bright little queen. As I can not make it 
quite Paradise, I will do what I can." 

" Any place is my Paradise so that you are there, Ever- 
ard!" 

And then there was an eloquent silence — the silence that 
always reigns where the joy is too intense for words or 
amiles. 

*' Landscape gardeners and upholsterers shall wave their 
magic wands and work their nineteenth century miracles," 
he said, ; presently, reverting to his project. " My dear 
girPs future home shall be a very bower of delights. And, 
besides," hesitating a little, " 1 want to see my mother. 
She feels herself a little slighted, 1 am afraid, after this 
winter's absence." 

** Ah, your mother!" with a little sigh. "Will she 
ever like me, do you think, Everard? ller letter was so 
cr)a, so formal, so chilling!" 

For this high-stepping young lady who had ridden at the 
fox-hunt with reckless daring, who was so regally ujilifted 
and imperious, had grown very humble in her new love. 
Not that there is anything .strange in that, for the haughti- 
est Cleopatra that ever set her royal heels on the neck of 
men becomes the veriest slave the moment she is subju- 
gated by the grand passion. 

Harrie had writtwi to my lady an humble, girlish, ap- 






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THE I5Aia)NKTo I.IMDK. 



pealing' littlt; lottur, and luiil rcuuivod ilio colilest of polite 
rcplios, buiUiLil'iilly writtoii, with tliu " bloody liiitid jwul 
lIio KiiigsliKid CTOist cuiblazoiiLHl proudly, and Lho motio of 
iho house \\\ good old iSorman I'runch, " {Strikx' ouco, and 
strike well/' 

Sinue then there had been no corrosi)ondenco. Misa 
llunstlon was too proud to sue loi- lier favor, had hIio been 
her queen as well as her mother-in-Iaw-eleet, and Sir Iwer- 
ard loved her too sensitively to ex2)ose her to a possible 
rebiilL 

My lady was unutterably offended by her son's desertion 
of a whole winter. She was nothing to him now — slie who 
had loved him so long and so dearly, who hail boon his all 
for two-and -twenty years. This bold, masculine girl with 
the horrible boy's name was his all in all now. 

Sir Evcrard Kingsland met with a very cold reception 
from his lady mother upon his return to JJevonshire. She 
listened in still disdain to his glowing accounts of the mar- 
vels the summer would work in tlie grand old place. 

*' And all this for the penniless daughter of a luilf-j)ay 
captain," she thought^ scornfully; " and Lady Louise 
might have been his wife. '^ 

Sir Everard, in the sublime egotism of youth and happy 
love, ran heediossly on. 

*' You and Milly shall retain your old rooms, of course,^' 
he said, "and have them altered or not, just as you 
choose. Harriets room shall be in the south wing — she 
likes a sunny, southern prospect — and the winter and sum- 
mer drawing-rooms must be completely refurnished: and 
the conservatory has been sadly neglected of late, and the 
oak paneling in the dining-room wants touching up. 
Hadn't you better give all the orders for your own apart- 
ments yourself? The others I will attend to." 

*' My orders are already given," Lady Kingsland said, 
with frigid hauteur. " My jointure house is to be fitted 
up. Before you return from your honey-moon I will have 
quitted Kingsland Court with my daughter. Permit Mil- 
dred and me to retain our present apartments unaltered 
until that time; then the future Lady Kingsland can have 
the old rooms disfigured with as much gilding and stucco 
and ormolu as she pleases." 

The young man's fair face blackened with an angry 



Till'] I!AR0NKT*S lUJTDK. 



olite 

iind 

to of 

und 



)) 



ii: 



]Jut 



Boowl as lio listojiod to tlio tauntinpf, apitofiil spciecli. 
lie rostraiiicd himself. 

" 'riioro is lu) necessity for your witliilrawul from your 
old home. 11' you leave, it will bo against my ©xpre.sM 
wish. Neitiier my wito uor I could ever desire such u 
sLe[)." 

*' Your wife!'' llcsr j)roud lips trembled and her dark 
eyes Hashed. " J)ocs she take state u[)on herself alreaily? 
To you and your wife. Sir Kverard Kingsiand, 1 return my 
humble thanks, but even Kingslaud (Jourt is not largo 
enough for two mistresses. 1 will never stand aside and 
see the pauper daughter of the half-i)ay captain rule where 
I ruled once." 

She swept majestically out of the room as she launched 
lier last smarting shaft, leaving her son, with Hashing eyes 
and face of suppressed rage, to recover his temper as best 
he might. 

" Jle will never ask me again," she thought. *' I know 
his nature too well.'* 

And ho did not. lie went about his work with stern de- 
termination, never consulting her, never asking advice, or 
informing her of any project — always deferential, always 
stridiously polite. IJut the "half-pay captain's pauper 
daughter," from that hour, was as a wall of brass between 
the haughty mother and the proud son. 

There was one person, however, at the Court who made 
lip, by the warmth of her greeting and the fervor of her 
sympathy, for any lack on his mother's part. It was Miss 
Sybilla Silver, of course, who somehow had grown to be as 
mach a fixture there as the marble and bronze statues in 
the domed hall. 

iShe had written to find her friends in Plymouth, or she 
said so, and failed, and she had managed to make herself 
so useful to my lady that my lady was very glad to keep 
her. She could make caps like a Parisian milliner; she 
could dress her exquisitely; she could read for hours in the 
sweetest and clearest of voices, without one yawn, the dull- 
est of dull High Church novels. She could answer notes 
aod sing like a siren, and she could embroider prie-ch'eu 
chairs and table-covers, and slippers and handkerchiefs, 
sad darn point lace like Fairy Fingers herself. 

She was a treasure, this ex-lad in velveteen, and my lady 
Cduotod it a lucky day that brought lier to Kingsland. 



'f^ 






II! 







•fi ' 



.118 



TTTTi rxnONKT 8 T^RTDE. 



IJiit MiH8 Sybilliv buloni^cil to my ludy'sson, and not to my 
l;i;.iy. To Uio young lord of Kiii^jHluiul her jiUogijinco wag 
lino, and at liis bi(Ulin<; Kho wus roiuly, at a moniont'ti 
nolico, to (loscrt tliu fcuiiUo Htandard. 

Mir EvoranI, who took a kintily interest in tlio dashing 
damsel with the coal-bhick hair and eves, wlio had sliot tho 
jwaelier, put the (|iu'HLioii plump one day: 

" My mother ami yistei leave before tho eadol the year, 
Sybilla. Will you desert me, too?" 

" Novor, Sir Evorard!*' The black eyes dropi)ed, and a 
high color rose in tho dusky cheeks. " I will never desert, 
you while you wish mo to stay.'' 

" I should like it, I confess. It will bo horribly dreary 
for my briilo to come home to a house where there is n<* 
one to welcome her but the servants. If my mother caii 
spare you, Sybilla, I wish you would stay.*' 

As she had done once before, and ere ho could provottt 
her, she lifted his hand to her li])s. 

" Sybilla belongs to you. Sir EverardI Command, anC 
she will obey." 

lie laughed, but ho also reddened as ho drew his haaC 
hastily away. 

" Oh, pooh! don't bo melodramatic! There is no ques- 
tion of commanding and obeying about it. You are frae 
to do as you please. If you choose to remain, give Lady 
Kingsland ))roper notice. If you prefer to go, why, 1 
must look out for some one to take your place. Don't be 
in a hurry — there's plenty of time to decide." 

rie swung o(! and left her. He was coolly indifferent t« 
her shining beauty, her velvet black eyes, her glossy, ravea 
ringlets, the tropical luxuriance of her Creole charms. 

She looked after him with a snaky gleam in those weird 
black eyes. 

" Plenty of time to decide," she repeated, with a sloif^ 
evil smile curling her thin lips. " My good Sir Everard, 1 
decided long ago! Marry your fox-hunting bride — bring 
her home. Sybilla Silver will be here to welcome her, 
never fear!" 

The baronet stayed three weeks in England — then re- 
turned impatiently to Paris. Of course the rapture of the 
meeting more than repaid the pain of parting. 

She was growing more beautiful every day, tho infatuated 
young man thought, over her books; and the sun itf 



THK RAKONETH HRIDF. 



IV. 



Wrnucii uhouo on noiliiii-j; Iiulf m lovely ti-t Uiiai U\L nlctulur 
litiuisul, in her gray seiiuol iiuiionu urid [>rini, biuek silk 
apron. 

'J'lio Riunnier wont. Sir Evorurd was buck unci fortU 
aorusi} tliu Cluwinal, like un insunu luiniun pendulum, unci 
tlio work ivent bravely on! King-slanil wu.s bein^' truna- 
Wnied — the huulsiiapu giirden(M'.s and the Jionduii npliol- 
aton.Td had r('r/v liUincliv, and iL wad the story of Alaudin'rf 
Palace over a<,'ain. Sir Everanl rubbed hi.s golden lauii>, 
attd, lo! mighty genii rose uj) and worked wondera. 

September came — the niira(jle8 ceased. Even money 
und men could do no more. October came. 

Sir Everard's year of probation wad expired. The lijv- 
«reiid Cyrus Green overcame heroically his horror of aea- 
aicknoss and steamers, and went to Paris in person for his 
ward. As plain Miss Ilunsilen, without a shilling to bless 
lierself with, the lioverend Cyrus would not by any means 
liave thought this extreme step necessary; but fur the future 
JLady Kingsland to travel aione was not for an instant to 
De thought of. So he went, and the first week of Is'ovem- 
toer he brouglit her home. 

Miss lluusden — taller, more stately, more beautiful thuii 
«Yer — was very still and sad, this first anniversary of her 
ifttther's (leath. Lady Kingsland, when she and Mildred 
laalled — for they did, of course — was rather impressed by 
the stately girl in mourning, whoso fair, jn'oud face and 
ttttlm, gray eyes met hers so unflinchingly. It was " Creek 
meets Greek '* hero; neither would yield an inch. Cer- 
tainly Miss Ilunsden was to blame, but Miss Hunsden was 
as proud a girl as ever traced back her genealogy to the 
Conquest, and had met with one decided rebuil' already. 

The wedding was to take place early in December — Sir 
Everard would not wait, and Harrie seemed to have no 
will left but his. Once she had feebly uttered some re- 
monstrances, but he had imperatively cut her short. 

" I have waited a year already; I will not wait one hour 
longer than 1 can possibly help, now." 

So this high-handed young tyrant had everything his 
own way. I'ho preparations were hurried on with aniaz- 
mg haste; the day was named, the bride-maids and guests 
bidden. 

Miss HuQsdea's young lady friends were few and far be^ 



! 



' : 



.1 ! 



120 



THE r.AKONET S HKIDK. 



,'c 



if: !: 



twecn, and Mildred Kingsland and the rector's sister and 
twelve-year-old daughter were to comprise the whole list. 

The wedding-day dawned — a sullen, overcast, threaten- 
ing December day. A watery sun looked out of a lower- 
ing sky, and then retreated altogether, and a leaden dull- 
ness overspread the whole lirnianeut. An icy wind curdled 
vour blood and tweaked your nose, and feuthery snow- 
llakes whirled drearily through the opaque gloom. 

The charity children, who strewed the road with tlower.s, 
had their tender visages mottled and purple with cold, 
and the rector and his assistant shivered in their surplices. 

The church was full, and silks rustled and bright eyes 
flashed inquisitively, and people wondered who that tail, 
foreign- looking person beside my lady might bo. 

It was Sybilla Silver, gorgeous in golden silk, with her 
black eyes lighted with cruel, inward exultation, and who 
glared almost iierccly upon the beautiful bride. 

My lady, magnificent in her superb disdain of all these 
childish proceedings, stood by and acknowledged in her 
heart of hearts that if beauty and grace be any excuse for 
folly, her son had those excuses. 

Lovely as a vision, with her pure, pale, passionless face, 
her clear, sweet eyes, Harriet Hunsden swept up the aisle 
in her rich bridal robes, her lloating lace, and virginal 
orange-blossoms. 

The bridegroom's eyes kindled with unutterable admira- 
tion and pride and love as he took his place by her side, 
he himself looking as noble and gallant a gentleman as 
wide England could boast. 

It was over — she was his wife! They had registered 
their names, they drove back to the rectory, the congratu- 
lations oU'ered, the breakfast eaten, the toast drunk. She 
was upstairs dressing for her journey; the carriage and the 
bridegroom were waiting impatiently below. 

Mrs Green hovered about her with tearful eyes and nui- 
tronly solicitude, and at the last moment Harriet Hung her- 
self impetuously upon her neck and broke cat into hys 
tcrical crying. 

" Forgive me!" she sobbed. " Oh, Mrs. Green, I never 
had a mother!" 

Then she drew down her veil and ran out of the room 
before the good woman could bpeak. Sir Everard was 
waiting in the hall, llo drew her hand under his arm and 



■ .1!' ' 

I' 



TUE r.ARONET'S RJITDF. 



131 



)Yii, 



hiirried her away. Mrs. Green got clown- stairs ouly ia 
time to see her in the carriage. She leaned forward to 
wave her gloved hand. 

** Good-bye I" she said — "good-bye, my good, kind 
friend!" 

Then the bridegroom sprung lightly in beside her, the 
carriage door closed, the horses started, and the happy pair 
wei-e oiJ for the month ot banishment civilized society im- 
peratively requires. 

*** * * * * * 

Sybilla Silver went back to the Court alone. My lady, 
in sullen dignity, took her daughter and went strtiight to 
ber jointure house at the other extremity of the village. 

She stood in the center of a lengthy suite of a])artments 
— the new Lady Kingsland's — opening one into the other 
in a long vista of splendor. She took a portrait out of her 
breast and gazed at it with brightly glittering eyes. 

** A whole year has passed, my mother," she said, slowly, 
" and nothing has been done. But Sybilla will keep her 
oath. Sir Jasper Kingsland's only son shall meet his doom. 
It is through //('/• 1 will strike; that blow will be doubly 
bitter. Before this day twelvemonth dawns these two, so 
loving, so hopeful, so happy now, shall part more horribly 
and minaturally than man and wife ever parted before!" 






CHAPTER XVII. 



^»o 



MR. PARMALEE'S LITTLE MYSTERY. 

KiXGSLAND Court had from time immemorial been 
one of the show-places of the county, Thursday being 
always set y.^^art as the visitors' day. 

The portfy old housekeeper used to play cicerone, but 
the portly old housekeeper, growijig portlier and older 
everyday, got in time quite unable to waddle up and d«ftwn 
and pant out gasping explanations to the st'-angers. 

So Miss Sybilla Silver, with her usual good nature, came 
to the rescue, got the history of the old house, and the old 
pictures, and cabinets, and curiositipt:, ? /id suits of armor 
and things by heart, and took Mrs. Comlit's place. 

Visitors, as a general thing, stood rather in awe of the 
tall and stately young lady, in her sweeping black silk 
robes, her great black eyes, and Assyrian style generally. 



■W 









I 






lit' !' 



C^llJ 






I I 



133 



THE BARONETS BRTDE. 



and were apt to mistake her at first for the lady of the 
manor. 

And in spite of Miss Silver's ceaseless smiles, and per- 
fect willingness to oblige and bo usofulj it was a remarka- 
ble fact that every servant in the house hated Jier like 
poison, excepting two tall footmen and a stable-boy, wh® 
were madiy in love with her. 

The firist Thursday after the marriage of Sir Everard 
there c<;me sauntering up to the Court, in the course of 
the afternoon, a tall young gentleman, eiuoking a cigar, 
and with his hands thrust deep in his trousers pockets. 

lie was not only tall, but uncommonly tall, uncommoa- 
\y lanky and loose-boned, and his clothes had the general 
air of being thrown on with a pitchfork. 

lie wore a redundance of jewelry, in the shape of a 
eonple of yards of watcli-chuin, a huge seal ring on eadi 
littio finger, and a Ihuiiig diamond breastpin of doubtful 
quality. 

His clothes were light, his hair was light, his ej-'es were 
light. He v/as utterly devoid of hirsute a[)pendages, and 
withal he was tolerably good-looking and unmistakably 
wido awake. 

He threw away his cigar as he reached the house, and 
astonished the understrapper who admitted him by pre- 
senting his card with a nourishing bow. 

" Jest give that to the boss, my man,^' said this pei'- 
sonage, coolly. ** 1 understand you allow strangers to ex- 
plore this old castle of your'n, and I've come quite a pieoe 
for ihat express purpose."* 

The footman gazed at him, then at the card, in sheer 
bewilderment a moment, and then went and sought o«t 
Miss Silver. 

" Blessed if it isn't that "Morican that's stopping at th« 
^ine, and that asked so many questions about Sir Ever° 
=i.rd and my lady, of Dawson, last night," he said. 

Sybilla took the card curiously. It was a hond-fide pieco 
^f pasteboard, printed all over in little, stumpy capitalsy; 

GEORGE WASHINGTON PARMALEE, 

Photographic Artist, 

Ko. 1060 Broadway, 

Upstairs. 



the 

)er- 
ka- 
ike 



THE BARONETS BRIDE, 



1133 



Misa Silver laughed. 

*' The gentleman wants tc see the house, does he? Of 
course ho must see it, then, Iliggins. And he was ask- 
ing questions of Diuvson hii;t night at the inn?'^ 

' Eaps of questions., Mi.'s fSilver, as bold as brass, all 
about Sir Evcrurd aiul my lady — our young lady, you 
know. Shall 1 fetch hiin up?" 

*' Certainly." 

There chanced to be no other visitor at the Court, and 
Sybilla received Mr. Parnialee with infinite smiles and con- 
descension. The tall American looked rather impressed 
by the majestic young lady with the great black eyes and 
superbly handsome face, but not in the least embarrassed. 

'■'' Beg your pardon, miss/^ ho said, politely; '* sorry to 
put you to so much trouble, but I calculated on seeing this 
old pile before I left these parts, and as they told mo down 
at the tavern this was the day — " 

" It is not tlu! :^ lightest trouble, 1 assure you,*' Miss Sil- 
ver interposed, graciously. " 1 am only too happy to have 
a stranger come and break the quiet monotony of our life 
here. And, besides, it allords me double pleasure to make 
the acquaintance of an American — a })eople I intensely ad- 
mire. You are the first I ever had the ha2)pines8 of meet- 
ing." 

This was doing the gracious to an u!ilieard-of extent; 
but the gentleman addressed did not appear in the least 
overcome. 

" Want to know!" said Mr. Parmalee, in a tone be- 
tokening no earthly emotion whatever. " It's odd, too. 
Plenty folks round our section come across; but I sup- 
pose they didn't happen along down here. Splendid place 
this; fine growing land all round; but 1 see most of it is 
let run wild. If all that there timber was cut down and 
the stumps burned out and the ground turned into past- 
ure, you hain't no idea what an Improvement it would be. 
But you Britishers don't go in for progress and that sort 
of thing. This old castle, now — it's two hundred years 
old, I'll be bound!" 

"More than that — twice as old. Will you come and 
look at the pictures now? Being an artist, of course you 
will like to see the pictures first. The collection is su- 
^rb!" 

Mr. Parmalee followed the young lady to the long plot- 



m 






Hi 



lu 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



ure-gallery, his hands still in his pockets, whistling softly 
to himself, and eying everything with his keen, shrewd, 
light-blue eyes. 

" Must have cost a sight of money, all these fixings," h« 
remarked, thoughtfully. " I know how them statues and 
busts reckons up. This here baronet must be a powerful 
rich man?" 

" He is," said Miss Silver, quietly. 

Mr. Parmalee fell into thought — came out of it — looked 
at Sybilla curiously. 

" Beg your pardon, miss, but air you one of the 
family?" 

*' No, sir," flushing a little. " I am Lady Kingsland's 
companion. " 

" Oh, a domestic!" said Mr. Parmalee, as if to himself. 
" Who'd a' thought it: Lady Kingsland's companion? 
Which of 'em? There's two, ain't there?" 

" Sir Everard's mother has left Kingsland Court. 1 
am companion to Sir Everard's wife." 

"Ah! jest so! Got married lately, didn't he! Might 
1 ask your name, miss?" 

"1 am Sybilla Silver." 

" Thauky," said Mr, Parmalee, with a satisfied nod. 
** So much easier getting along when you know a person's 
name. Married a Miss Hunsden, didn't he — the bar- 
onet?" 

" Yes. Miss Harriet Hunsden. " 

*' That's her. Lived with her pa, an old oflBcer in the 
army, didn't she? Used to be over there in America?" 

"Yes." Sybilla caught her breath suddenly. "Did 
you know her?" 

" Wa-al, no," replied Mr. Parmalee, with a drawl, and 
a queer sidelong look at the lady; " 1 can't say I did. 
They told me down to the tavern all about it. Handsome 
young lady, wasn't she? One of your tall-stepping, high- 
mettled sort?" 

"Yes." 

" And her pa's dead, and he left her nothing? Was 
poor as a church-mouse, that old officer, wasn't he?" 

" Cajitain Hunsden had only his pay," answered Miss 
Silver, wondering where this catechism was to end. 

" And they've gone off on a bridal tower? Now when 
do you expect them back?''' 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



135 



•' In a month. Are you particularly desirous of seeing 
Sir Everard or Lady Kingsland?" asked Sybilla, sudden- 
ly and sharply. 

Again the tall American eyed her askance. 

"Well, yes/' he said, slowly, " I am. I*m collecting 
photographic views of all your principal buildings over 
here, and I'm going to ask 8ir Everard to let mo take this 
)i)lace, inside and out. These rooms are tiie most scrump- 
tious concerns I've seen lately, and the Fifth Avenue 
Hotel is some pumpkins, too. Oh, these are t^--: pictures, 
are they? What a jolly lot!" 

Mr. Parmalee became immediately absorbed by the hosts 
of dead-and-gone Kingslands looking down from the oak- 
paneled waHs. Miss Silver fluently gave him names, and 
dates, and histories. 

" Seems to me," said Mr. l^armalee, " those old fellows 
didn't die in their beds— many of 'em. What with bat- 
tles, and duels, and high treason, and sich, they all came 
to unpleasant ends. Where's the present Kingsland's?" 

" Sir Everard 's portrait is in the library." 

" And her ladyship — his wife?" 

" We have no picture of Lady Kingsland as yet." 

Mr. Parmalee's inscrutable face told nothing — whether 
he was disappointed or not. He followed Miss Silver all 
over the house, saw everything worth seeing, and took the 
" hull concern," as he expressed it, as a matter of course. 
The short winter afternoon was done before the sights 
were. 

" Should like to come again," said Mr. Parmalee. " A 
fellow couldn't see all that's worth seeing round here in 
less than a month. Might 1 step up again to-morrow. 
Miss Silver?" 

Miss Silver shook her head. 

" I'm afraid not. Thursday is visitors' day, and I dare 
not infringe the rules. You may come every Thursday 
while you stay, and meantime the gardeners will show you 
over the grounds whenever you desire. How long do you 
remain, Mr. Parmalee?" 

" That's oncertain," replied the photographic artist, 
eautiously. " Perhaps not long, perhaps longer. I'm 
much obliged to you, miss, for all the bother I've made 
you." 






!■ hi 

I" 






lu 



THE BAKONliT'S IJHTDE. 



" Not at all,'* said Sybilla, politely. " I shall be ka»py 
at any time to give you any information iu laiy power. 

" Thanky. Good -evening.'* 

The tall American swung off with long strides. The 
young lady watched him out of sight. 

" There is more in this than meets the eye/' she thought. 
" That man knows something of Harriet — Lady Kiugslaud. 
I'll cultivate him for my lady's sake." 

After that Mr. Farnuile3 and Miss Silver met frequent- 
ly. In her walks to the village it got to be the regular 
thing for the American to become her escort, and almost 
every day found him meandering aimlessly about the 
grounds. 

He was rather clever at pencil-drawing, and made 
numerous sketches of the house, and took the likenesses of 
all the servants. He even set up a temporary photo- 
graphic place down in the village, and announced himself 
ready to " take " the whole po2)ulation at " half a dollar " 
Q head. 

'* There's nothing like making hny while the sun shines," 
temarked Mr. Parmalee to himsell'. " 1 may as well do a 
little stroke of business, to keep my hand in, while I wait 
lor my lady. There ain't no telling how this little specu- 
iation of mine may turn out, after all." 

So the weeks went by, and every Thursday found the 
American exploring the house. He was a curious study 
to Sybilla as he went along, his hands invariably in his 
pockets, his hat pushed to the back of his head, whistling 
iSoftly and meditatively. 

Every day she became more convinced he knew some- 
thing of Harrie Hunsden's American antecedents, and 
ever day she grew more gracious. But if Mr. Parmalee 
had his secrets, he knew how to keep them. While fully 
appreciating the handsome young lady's showering smiles, 
and evidently considerably iu love, he yet never dropped 
the faintest clew. 

" Can ho ever have been a lover of hers in Now York?" 
Sybilla asked herself. " I know she was there two years 
at school. " 

But it seemed improbable. Harrie could not have been 
over thirteen or fom iocn at the time. She could discover 
ftothing. Mr. Parnnilye k:'pt his own counsel like wax. 

The honey-moon month passed — the January day that 



THE BAIIONET.S BRfDE. 



127 



The 



)f 



was to bring the happy pair liome arrivcil. In the golden 
sunset of a gloriou?; wiiiiir (li),y Iho carriap;e rollod up the 
avenue, and Sir Everard liumlud Luily Kingaland out. 

Tho long lino of servants were drawn up in the hall, 
with Mrs. Comlifc and Miss Silver at their head. High 
and happy as a yaung prince, Sir Everard strode in among 
thorn, vvitii his bride on liis jirni. And she — Sybilla Silver 
— set her teelh as she looked at her, so gloriously radiant 
in her wedded bliss. Slie seemed to have received a new 
baptism of beauty. She looiced a brilliant young queen 
by royal right of that radiant loveliness. 

Mr. Parmalee, lounging among the trees, caught one 
glimpse of that exquisite face as it flashed by. 

" 13y George! ain't she a stunner? Xot a bit lilvc t'other 
one, with her black eyes and tarry hair. I've seen quad- 
roon girls, down South, whiter than Miss Silver. And, 
what's more, she isn't a bit like — like the lady in Loudon, 
that she'd ought to look like." 

Sybilla saw very little of Sir Everard or his bride that 
evening. They dined fefe-a-tcfc, and, after their journey, 
retired early. But the next morning, at breakfast, she 
broached the subject of Mr. Parmaleo. 

" Wants to take photographic views of the place, does 
he?" said Sir Everard, carelessly. " Is he too timid to 
speak for himself, Sybilla? His countrymen, as a rule, 
are not addicted to bashfulness." 

" Mr. Parmaiee is not in tho least bashful. He merely 
labors under the delusion that a petition j)roffered by me 
can not fail." 

"Oh, the fellow is welcome!" the baronet said, in- 
differently. " Let him amuse himself, by all means. H 
the views are good, 1 will have some myself. " 

Mr. Parmaiee presented himself in the course of the 
day. It was hopelessly wet and wintery; but, with placid 
contempt for the elements, the American, shielded by a 
huge cotton umbrella, stalked up to the Court. 

Sir Everard received him politely in the library. 

'* Most assuredly, Mr. — oh, Parmaiee. Take the views, 
of course. I am glad you admire Kingsland. You have 
been making some sketches already. Miss Silver tells me." 

Miss Silver herself had ushered the gentleman in, and 
now stood liugeringly by the door-way. My lady sav 



! ; 

I ; 



I uf 



/^ 



'iin 



m 



■1 * 



'U 






t: 



128 



THE BAKONET S P.TirDE. 



watch injr the ceaseless niiii with iriilolent eyes, holilmg a 
novel in lier iii\), and looking very serene and handsome. 

'* Well, yes," Mi-. Parmuleo admitted, glancing modest- 
ly at the plethoric portfolio he carried under his arm. 
" Would your lordship mind taking a look at them? I've 
got some uncommon neat viess of our American scenery, 
too — Mammoth Cave, Niagry Falls, White Mountains, 
and so on. Might help to pass a rainy afternoon. " 

Sir Everard laughed good-naturedly. Ilo was so su- 
premely blessed himself that he quite forgot to be proud, 
and the afternoon was hopelessly wet. 

" Very true, Mr. Parmalee; it might. Let us see your 
American views, then. Taken by yourself, I presume?" 

" Yes, sir!" responded the artist, with emiDhasis. 
" Every one of 'em; and done justice to. Look a-here!" 

lie opened his portfolio and spread his " views '* out. 

Lady Kingsland arose with languid grace and crossed 
over. Her husband seated her beside him with a loving 
smile. Her back was partly turned to the American, 
whom she had met without the faintest shade of recogni- 
tion. 

Sybilla Silver, eager and expectant of she knew not 
what, lingered and looked likewise. 

The " views " weia really very good, and there was an 
abundance of them — White Mountain and Hudson River 
Gcenory, Niagara, Nahant, Southern and Western scenes. 
Then he produced photographic portraits of all the Ameri- 
can celebrities — presidents, statesmen, authors, actors, and 
artists. 

Lady Kingsland looked at these latter with considerable 
hiterest. Some of the actors she had seen; many of the 
authors she had read. 

Mr. Parmalee watched her from under intent brows as 
she took them daintily up in her slender, jeweled fingers 
one by one. 

1 have a few portraits here," he said, after a pause, 

painted on ivory, of American ladies remarkable for 
their beauty. Here they are. " 

He took out five, presenting them one by one to Sir 
Everard. He had not presumed to address Lady Kings- 
land directly. The first was a little Southern quadroon; 
the second a bright-looking young squaw. 



i( 



'V 



Tiie baronet laughed. 



THE baronet's I'.RIDE. 



t39 



*' These are your American ladies, are they? Pretty 
enough to bo ladies, certainly. Look, Ilarrio! Isn't that 
Indian face exquisite?" 

Ho passed them to his wife. The third was an actress, 
the fourth a dansciisc. All were beautiful. With the 
last in his hand, Mr. Parmalee paused, and the first change 
Sybilla had ever seen cross his face crossed it then. 

" This one 1 prize most of all,'* he said, speaking slowly 
and distinctly, and looking furtively at my lady. '* This 
lady's story was the saddest story I ever heard.'- 

Sybilla looked eagerly across the baronet's shoulder for 
a second. It was a lovely face, pure and child-like, with 
great, innocent blue eyes and wavy brown hair — the face 
of a girl of sixteen. 

" It is very pretty," the baronet said, carelessly, and 
passed it to his wife. 

Lady Kingsland took it quite carelessly. The next in- 
stant she had turned sharply around and looked Mr. 
Parmalee full in the face. 

The American had evidently expected it, for he had 
glanced away abruptly, and begun hustling his pictures 
back into his portfolio. Sybilla could see he was flushed 
dark red. She turned to my lady. She was deathly j)ale. 

" Did you paint those portraits, too?" she aslvcd, speak- 
ing for the first time. 

" No, marm — my lady, I mean. 1 collected these as 
curiosities. One of 'em — the one you're looking at — was 
given me by the original herself." 

The picture dropped from my lady's hand as if it had 
been red-hot. Mr. Parmalee bounded forward and picked 
it up with imperturbable sang froid. 

" 1 value this most of all my collection. I knew the 
lady well. I wouldn't lose it for any amount of money." 

My lady arose abruptly and walked to the window, and 
the hue of her face was the hue of death. Sybilla Siirer's 
glittering eyes went from face to face. 

" 1 reckon I'll be going now," Mr. Parmalee remarked. 
" The rain seems to hold up a little. I'll be along to- 
morrow. Sir Everard, to take those views. Much obliged 
to you for your kindness. Good-day." 

He glanced furtively at the stately woman by the win- 
dow, standing still as if turning to stone. But she neithol 
looked nor moved nor spoke. 

5 



(f 



■'I 

ill 



180 



'i'lll'] JiAUOiSKT li DUIDIi. 



|5 J '; 



I I 



CHAPTER XVIIL 



IN THE PICTUKE-GALLERY. 



Mr. Pakmalee, true to his ])romiso, presented himself 
at the carJiest udmidsible hour next day with all the aj)- 
paratus of his art. 

So early was it, indeed, that Sybilla was just pouring 
out the baronet's first cup of tea, while ho leisurely opened 
the letters the moruiug mail had brought. 

Lady Kiugsland complained of a bad headache, her hus- 
band said, and would not leave her room until dinner. 

Sir Everai'd made this announcement, quietly opening 
his letters. Sybilla looked at him with furtive, gleaming 
eyes. The tiaie had come for her to begin to lay her 
train. 

My lady had ascended to her room immediately upon the 
departure of the American, the preceding day, and had 
been invisible ever since. That convenient feminine ex- 
ouse, headache, had accounted for it; but Sybilla Silver 
knew better. She had expected her to breakfast this 
morning, and she began to think Mr. Parmalee's little 
mystery was more of a mystory than even she had 
dreamed. The announcement of the man's arrival gave 
ker her cue. 

" Our American friend is a devotee of art, it seems," 
ahe said, with a light laugh. *' He lets no grass grow un- 
der his feet. 1 had no easy task to restrain his artistic 
ardor within due limits during your absence. I neyer 
knew such an inquisitive person, either; he did nothing 
but ask questions." 

" A national trait," Sir Everard responded, with a 
shrug. '* Americans are all inquisitive, which accounts 
for their go-aheadativeness, 1 dare say. " 

'* Mr. Parmalee's questions, however, took a very nar- 
row range; they only comprised one subject — you aa4 my 
lady." 

The young baronet looked up in haughty amaze. 

" His curiosity on this subject was insatiable; your moat 
minute biography would not have satisfied him. About 
Lady Kingslaud particularly— in point of fact, I thought 



THE baronet's BRIDE, 



ISl 



ho must have known hor in New York, his (juebtions w»ce 
80 pointed, und I asked liiiii so directly." 

Tlie stare of haughty siirjiriso gave place to one of as- 
tonished anger, a.s tlie baronet bent his brows and looked 
sternly across the table. 

" And what did he say?" 

"Oh, ho said no,'* replied Sybilla, lightly, "but in 
6uch 51. manner as led me to infer yes. However, it wm 
evident, yesterday, that my laily had never set eyes on 
him before; but I did I'ancy, for an instant, she somehow 
recognized that picture." 

" What picture?" asked the baronet, sharply, his brows 
knit in an angry frown. 

" '^J'hat last portrait he showed her," Miss Silver au- 
Bwcred, still in the same light tone. " Yet that may have 
be(5n only fancy, too." 

The angry frown deepened and darkened. The blue 
blood of the Kingslands was prone to heat easily. 

*' Then, Miss Silver, have the goodness to indulge 
in no more such fancies. 1 don't care to hear your sus- 
picions and surmises, and I don't choose to have my wife 
so minutely watched. As for this too inquisitive Yankee, 
he had better cease his questions, if he wishes to quit Eng- 
land with sound bones!" 

Ho arose angrily from the table, swept his letters to- 
gether, and left the room. But his face wore a deep-red 
flush, and his bent brows never relaxed. The first poison- 
ous suspicion had entered his mind, and the calm of per- 
fect trust would never reign there again. 

Sybilla gazed after him with her dark, evil smile. 

" Caesar's wife must be above reproach, of course. 
Fume and fret as you please, my dear Sir Everard, but 
this is only sowing the first seed. I shall watch your wife, 
and I will tell you my suspicions and my fancies, and you 
will listen in spite of your uplifted sublimity now. Jeal- 
ousy is ingrained in your nature, though you do not know 
it, and a very little breath will fan the tiny coal into iOL 
inextinguishable flame. " 

She arose, rang the bell for the servant to clear the 
table, shook out her black silk robe, and went, with a 
smile on her handsome face, to do the fascinating to Mr, 
Parmalee. 

She found that oaatious gentleman, busily arranging hie 



m 






n 



'! , 






|i:' 






till - 



"'9 ^ 


|H; 


i 


1 



132 



THE lUHtNKi s I'.Kibr;. 



iniplomonts in tho ])icture-jjfiill(jiy, |»i'(.')»;iiii!<try Id liikinf; 
Huutlry views of the noblo room. IId jioildt-il {.'liively to 
tho youug hilly, and went steudlastly on wilh Ih'h work. 

*' You certainly lose no time, Mr. J*armalee," MIhh Sil- 
ver said. " 1 was remarking to Sir Mverard ut breakfast 
that you wore a perfect devotee of art." 

Mr. Parnudeo nodded again, in acknowledgment of tho 
compliment. 

'• How dooa tho baronet find himself this morning?'' ho 
asked. 

" As usual — well." 

'* And lier ladyship?" very carelessly. 

** Her ladyship is not well. I'm afraid your pretty 
pictures disagreed with her, Mr. I'arnnilee." 

" Hey?" said tho artist, with a sharp, suspicious ataro. 

Miss Silver laughed. 

" She was j)erfectly well until you showed them to her. 
She has been ill over since. One must draw one's own 
iufereueo.'' 

Mr. ] ujmaloe busied himself some five minutes in pro- 
found silence. Then — 

*' Whore is she to-day? Ain't she about?" 

** No. I told you she was ill. She complained of head- 
ache after you left yesterday, and went u]) to her own 
room. 1 have not seen her since." 

Mr. Parmalee began to whistle a negro melody, and still 
went industriously on with his work. 

*' I don't think nothing of that," ho remarked, after a 
prolonged pause. *' Fine ladies all have headaches. 
Knowed heaps of 'em to home — all had it. You have 
yourself sometimes, I guess." 

*' No," said Sybilla; " I'm not a fine lady. I have no 
time to sham headaches, and 1 have no secrets to let 
loose. I am only a fine lady's companion, and all the 
world is free to know my history." 

And then Miss Silver looiced at Mr. rarmalee, and Mr. 
Parmalee looked at Miss Silver, with the air of two ac- 
complished duelists waiting for the word. 

*' He's as sharp as a razor," thought the h'dy, " and as 
shy as a partridge. Half measures won't do with him. 1 
must fight him on his own ground." 

" By jingo! she's as keen as a catamount!" thought 
the gentleman, in a burst ol admiration. " She'll be a 



i 



TFK I!AI!0NI:T*R IlRIDF. 



133 



vcly U) 
)rlv. 

riHs Sil- 
't'iikfuut 

oC (ho 

i;'^" he 



pretty 

I staro. 

to her. 
e's own 

; iu pro- 
of head- 
ier own 

and still 

, after a 
vlaohos. 
3U have 

liave no 

s to let 

all the 

and Mr. 
two ac- 

' and as 
him. 1 

thought 
•'II be a 



I 



I 



credit to the man tliat nijirric^ \un: AVhat a pity she 
don't heloii*,' down to ^fainu. She's a wigliL too tiuto for u 
born Uritisher.'* 

'riiero was a louix ]muse. Mi.ss Silver and IMr. rannaleo 
looked eaeh oi,lu'r I'liil in tlio eye without winking. All at 
ouf'o tin; gentlcnmn burst out laughing. 



(iet out!" said Mr. rarmalt'o. 



(!o 'lonj: — dol 



-you are, by gosh ! Miss 
^'aukee, Mr. Parmaleo, 



You're too smart for tin's world- 
Sybilla Silver." 

" Almost smart enough for a 
and wonderfully good at guessiii;;-. 

'' Yes!"' And what have you guessed this time?" 

" That yon have Fiady Kingsland's secret; that that 
])ortrait — the last of the live — is the elew. That you hold 
the baronet's briile in the lioUow of your hand!" 

She 8})oko the last words close to his ear, in a fierce, 
sibilant whis])er. The Anuu'iiian u' ually recoiled. 

"(«'() 'long!" re})eated j^fr. J'arn' lee. "Don't you go 
whistling in a fellow's ear like tl it. Miss S.; it tickles, 
(rot ajiy more to say?" 

"Only this: that you had bettor make a friend of me, 
Mr. Parmaleo." 

There was a glittering menace in her black eyes — a 
hard, threatening under-tone in her voice. liut the 
American lost not an atom of his imperturbable ficmg 
J'roid. 

" And if I don't, Miss S.? If I prefer to do as wo do 
in euchre, ' go it alone ' — what then?" 

" Then!" cried Sybilla, with a blaze of her black eyes, 
" I'll take the game out of your hands. I'll foil you with 
your own weapons. I never failed yet. I'll not fail now. 
I'm a match for a dozen such as you!" 

" I believe, in my soul, you are!" exclaimed the artist, 
in a burst of admiring enthusiasm. " You're the real 
grit, and no mistake. I do admire spunky girls — I do, 
by jingo! I always thought if I married and fetched a 
Mrs. George Washington Parmalee down to Maine, she'd 
have to be something more than common. And you're 
not common. Miss S. — not by a long chalk! 1 never met 
your match in my life." 

" iSlo?" said Sybilla, smiling, and rather surprised by 
this outburst; " not even ' down to Maine?' " 

" No, by George! and we rai.se the smartest kind of girls 



I 
\ III 
I 



i 



1:1 



1 

! I 



134 



THE baronet's bride. 



■' 



'■ ! 



there. Now, Miss Silver, supposing, we go partners hi 
this here concern, would you be willing to go partners 
with a fellow for life? I never thought to marry an En- 
glish woman, but I'll marry you to-morrow, if you'll have 
mo. What d*ye say? Is it a go?" 

It was rarely, indeed. Miss Silver lost her admirable 
presence of mind, but for a moment she lost it entirely 
now. She fairly gasped for breath in he" complete amaze- 
ment. Only for a moment, though, x'hen as the utter ] 
absurdity of the affair struck her she went off into an in- 
extinguishable fit of laughter. 

" You don't mean it, Mr. Parmalee?" as soon as she 
oould speak. 

" I do!" said Mr. Parmalee, with emphasis. " Laugh, 
if you like. It's kind of sudden, I supiDose, but I've had 
a hankering after you this some time. Your a right 
smart kind of girl, and jest my style, and I like you tip- 
top. The way you c a roll up them black 03^03 of yours at 
a lellow is a caution rattlesnakes. Say, is it a go?'* 

Sybilla turned a 'ay. Her dark cheeks reddened. 
There was a momer t's hesitation, then she turned back 
and extended her hand. 

" You are not very romantic, Mr. Parmalee. You don't 
ask me for my love, or any of that sentimental nonsense," 
with a laugh. " And you really mean it — you really mean 
to make Lady Kingsland's poor companion your wife?" 

" Never meant anything more in my life. It is a go, 
then?" 

" I will marry you, Mr. Parmalee, if you desire it." 

" And you won't go back on a fellow?" asked Mr. 
Parmalee, suspiciously. " You're not fooling mo just to 
get at this secret, are you?" 

Sybilla drew away her hand with an offended air, 

'* Think better of me, Mr. Parmalee! I may be shrewd 
enough to guess at your secret without being base enough 
to tell i\ deliberate lie to know it. I could find it oat by 
easier means." 

" 1 don't know pbout that," said the artist, cooiiy. "It 
ain't likely Lady Kingsland would tell you, and you 
couldn't get it out of me, you know, if you wjis twice as 
clever, unless I chose. But I want you to help me. A 
man always gets along better in these little underhand 
matters when he's got a woman going partners with bun. 






THE baronet's BUIDE. 



13§ 



she 



I want to see my lady. I want to send her a note all un- 
beknown to the baronet." 

** I'll deliver it," said Sybilla, promptly; *' and if sbe 
chooses to see you, I will raauag'^ that 8ir Everard will not 
intrnde. " 

'• JShe*Il see me fast enough. I thought she'd want to 
see me herself before this, but it appears she's inclined to 
hold out: so I'll drop her a hint in writing. If the 
mountain won't come to what's-his-name — you know what 
I mean. Miss Silver. I suppose I may call you Sybilla 
now.-' 

** Oh, undoubtedly, Mr. Parmalee! But for the pres- 
ent don't you think — just to keep people's tongues quiet, 
you know — had we not better keep this little jirivato com- 
pact to ourselves? I don't want the gossiping servants of 
the house to gossip in the kitchen conclave about you and 
me. 

Mr. Parmalee gave one of his sapient nods. 

'* Just as you please. I don't care a darn for their gos- 
siping, though. And now about that little note. I want 
to see my lady before I explain things to you, you know." 

'* And why}* You don't intend to tell her I am to be 
taken into your confidence, I suppose?" 

"Not much!" said Mr. Parmalee, emphatically. 
** Never you mind, Sybilla. Before you become Mrs. P., 
you'll know it all safe enough. I'll write it at once." 

He took a Btum2)y lead-pencil from his pocket, tore a 
leaf out of his pocket-book, and wrote these words: 



l^'li 



> ■ 



! ■>»1 



m 






'* My Lady,— You knew the picture, and I know your 
secret, Shoiilu iiku to see you, if convenient, soon. Tb»t 
person is in London waiting to hear from me. 

" Your most obedient, 

" G. W. Parmalee." 

The photographer handed the scrawl to Sybilla. 

"Read it." 

** Well?" she said, taking it all in at a glance. 

" Give her this. She'll see me before 1 leave this house, 
or I'm much mistaken. She's a very handsome and a 
very proud lady, this baronet's bride; but for all that 
she'll obey G. W. Parmalee's orders, or he'll know the 
leaaoQ why." 



136 



THE JixVllOKET 3 BUIDE. 



P '' 



CHAPTER XIX. 

MISS SILVER PLAYS HER FIRST CARD. 

It was all very well for Sir Everard Kinf^sland to rido 
his high horse in the j^rcsence of Miss Sybilla Silver, and 
superbly rebuke her suspicions of his wife, but her words 
had planted their sting, nevertheless. 

He was one of those unhappy men who are " inclined to 
be jealous " — men in whose breast suspicion, once planted, 
flourishes forever. His face was very dark as he paced 
up and down the library, revolving over and over the few 
light words his protegee had dropped. 

He loved his beautiful, imperious, gray-eyed wife with so 
absorbing and intense a love that the faintest doubt of her 
was torture inexpressible. 

*' I remember it all now,'' he said to himself, setting his 
teeth; " she was agitated at sight of that picture. She 
turned, with the strangest look in her face I ever saw 
there, to the American, and rose abruptly from the table 
immediately after. She hap not been herself since; she 
has not once left her room. Is she afraid of meeting that 
man? Is there any secret in her life that he shares? 
What do I know of her past life, save that she has been 
over the world with her father? Good Heaven! if she and 
this strange man should have a secret between them, after 
all!" 

The cold drops actually stood on his brow at the thought. 
The fie^-ia, indomitable pride of his haughty race and the 
man's own inward jealousy made the bare susi)icion agony. 
But a moment after, and with a sudden impulse of gener- 
ous love, he recoiled from his own thoughts. 

"lam a wretch," ho thought, "a traitor to the best 
and most beautiful of brides, to harbor such an unworthy 
idea! What! shall I doubt my darling girl becau:^e Sybilla 
Silver thinks she recognized that portrait, or beciiuse an 
inquisitive stranger chooses to ask questions? No! 1 could 
stake my life on her perfect truth and purity — my own 
dear wife.'' 

Impulsively I.t turned to go; at onco ho must seek her, 
and set every doubt at rest. He ascujulcd rapidly to her 
room and softly tapi)ed at the door. There was uo an- 



il I . 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



13/ 



Bwer. Ho knocked again; still no response. He turned 
the handle and went in. 

She was asleep. Lying on a sofa, among a heap of pil- 
lows, arrayed in a white dressing-gown, her profuse dark 
hair all lojse and disordered. Lady Kingsland lay, so pro- 
foundly sleeping that her husbaud's knocking had not dis- 
turbed he I'. Her fac3 was as white as her robe, and her 
eyelashes were wet, as though she had cried herself to sleep 
like a child. 

8he had not closed an eye the livelong night before, and 
here, in the quiet of the early morning, she had dropped 
off into the profound slumber that no trouble can long 
keep from the young and the healthy. 

The handsome face of Everard Kingsland softened and 
grew luminous with unutterable love. 

'* My love! my darling!" He knelt beside her and 
kissed her passionately. '* And to think that for one sec- 
ond I was base enough to doubt you! My beautiful, inno- 
cent darling, slumbering here, like a very child! No 
earthly power shall ever sunder you and me!" 

A pair of deriding black eyes flashed upon him through 
the partly open door — a pair of greedy ears drank in the 
softly murmured words. Sybilla Silver, hastening along 
with the artist's little note, had caught sight of the baronet 
entering his wife's room. She tapped discreetly at the 
door, with the twisted note held conspicuously in her hand. 

Sir Everard arose and opened it, and Miss Silver's sud- 
den recoil was the perfection of confusion and surprise. 

" 1 beg your pardon. Sir Everaid. My lady is — is she 
not here?" 

*' Lady Kingsland is asleep. Do you wish to deliver 
that note?" 

With a second gesture of seeming confusion, Sybilla hid 
the hand which held it in the folds of her dress. 

" Yes — no — it doesn't matter. It can wait, I dare say. 
He didn't mention being in a hurry." 

*' He! Of whom are you speaking, Sybilla?" 

*' I — I chanced to pass through tlio picture-gallery five 
minutes ago. Sir Everard, and Mr. Parmrlee asked me to 
do him the favor of handing this note to my lady." 

Sir Everard Kingsland's face was the face of a man ut- 
terly confounded. 

'* Mr. Parmalee asked you to deliver that note to Lady 



^f 



J 



tj 



v 



f '.', 



136 



THE BAROKET^S BETDE. 



Kingsland?** he slowly repoated. '* What under kfift?eft 
can he have to write to my lady about?" 

'* 1 really don't know. Sir Everard,'* rejoined Sybilla, 
her characteristic composure seeming all at ouce to return. 
•' I only know he asked me to deliver it. Ho had been 
looking for my lady's maid, 1 fancy, in vain. It is prob- 
ably something about his tiresome pictures. Will you 
please to take it. Sir Everard, or shall I wait until my lady 
awakes?" 

" You may leave it." 

He spoke the words mechanically, quite stunned by the 
overwhelming fact that this audacious photographic })erson 
dared to write to his wife. Miss Silver passed him, placed 
the twisted paper on one of the inlaid tables, and left the 
room with a triumphant light in her deriding black eyes. 

" I have trumped my hrst trick," Sybilla thought, as 
she walked away, *' and I fancy the game will be all my 
own hnortly. Sir Everard will open and read Mr. Parma- 
lee's little biUct'doux the instant he is alone." 

But just here Sybilla was mistaken. Sir Everard did 
not open the tempting twisted note. He glanced at it once 
with a darkly lowering brow as it lay on the table., but ho 
made no attempt to take it. 

" She will show it to me when she awakes," he said, 
with compressed lips, " and then I will have this imperti- 
nent Yankee kicked from the house." 

He sat beside her, watching hei' while she slept, witli a 
face quite colorless between conflicting love and torturing 
doubt. His wife held some secret with this strange man. 
That one thought in itself was enough to drive him wild. 

Nearly an hour passed before Harriet awoke. The great 
dark eyes opened in wide surprise at sight of that pale, in- 
tense face bending so devotedly over her. 

" You here, Everard?" she said, sitting up and pushing 
away the tangled mass of waving hair. " How long have 
I been asleep? How long have you been here?" 

" Over an hour, Harrie. " 

" So long? 1 had no idea of going asleep when 1 lay 
diown; but my head ached with a dull, hopeless pain, and — 
What is that?" 

She broke off in wiiat she was saying to ask the question 
abruptly. She had caught sight of the note lying on the 
table, 



lll- 



/ 



THE baronet's bride. 



180 



Her husbaml fixed his eyes keenly on her face, ami an- 
swered, with measured slowness: 

" You will scarcely believe it, but that stranger — that 
American artist — has had the impertinence to adtlress that 
note to you. Sybilla Silver brought it here. Shall I ring 
for your maid and send it back unopened, and order him 
out of the house for his pains?" 

*' No!'* said Harriet, impetuously. " I must read it — 
1 must see what he says.*' 

She snatched it up. She tore it open, and, walking over 
to the window, read the scrawl. So long she stood there 
that she might have read over two dozen such. 

" Harriet!'* 

She turned slowly round at her name spoken by her hus- 
band as that adoring husband had never spoken it before, 
and faced him, white to the very lips. 

" Give me that note.'* 

He held out his hand. She crushed it firmly in her own, 
looking him straight in the eyes. 

*' 1 can not.** 

" You can not?'* he repeated, slowly, deathly pale. 
" Do 1 understand you aright, Harriet? Tiemember, 1 left 
that note untouched while you slept, waiting for you to 
show it to me. No man has a right a address a note to 
my wife that I may not see. Show me that papei Har- 
riet." 

*' It is nothing *' — she caught her breath in a quick, 
gasping, affrighted way as she said it — "it is nothing, 
E ver ard ! Don 't ask me ! " 

" If it is nothing, I may surely see it. Harriet, I com- 
mand you! Show me that note!" 

The eyes of Captain Hunsden's daughter inflamed up 
fierce and bright at sound of that imperious word com- 
mand. She drew her slender figure with sudden, imperial 
grace to its fullest height. 

*' And I don't choose to be commanded — not if you were 
my king as well as my husband. You shall never 5?ee it 
now!" 

There was a wood-fire leaping up on the marble hearth. 
She flung the note impetuously as she spoke into the midst 
of the flames. One bright jet of flame, and it was gone. 

Husband and wife stood facing each other, }o deathly 



1 i;i. 



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140 



THE IIARONET'S BRIDE. 



i 



! 



white, she flushed and defiant. lie was the first to speak 
— the first to turn away. 

" And this is tlie woman I loved — the wife I trusted — 
my bride of one shori moulh. " 

He had turned to quit the room, but two impetuous 
arms were around his neck, two impulsive lips covering 
his face with penitent, imploring kisses. 

*' Forgive rae — forgive me! Harriet cried. *' My 
dear, my true, my cherished husband! Oh, what a wicked, 
ungrateful creature I am! What a wretch you must think 
me! And 1 can not — I can not — I can not tell you." 

She broke out suddenly into a storm of hysterical crying, 
clinging to his neck. 

He took hor in his arms, '* more in sorrow than in 
angor," sat down with her on the sofa, and let her sob 
herself still. His face was stern and set as stone. 

" And now, JIarriet," he said, when the hysterical sobs 
were hushed, " who is this man, and what is he to you?" 

She answered him at once, to his surprise, passionately, 
almost fiercely: 

" He is nothing to wf — less than nothing! I hate him!" 

*' Where did you know him before?" 

'* Know him before?" She sat up and looked him half 
angrily in the face. " I never knew him before! I never 
set eyes on him until I saw him here. " 

Sir Everard drew a long breath of intense relief. No 
one could doubt her perfect truth, and his worst suspicion 
was at rest. 

*' Then what is this secret between you two? For there 
is a secret, Harriet." 
*' There is." 

He drew his hands away from her with a sudden motion. 
*' What is it, Harriet?" 
*' I can not tell you." 
** Harriet!" 

*' I can not." She turned deathly white as she said it, 
but her eyes met his unflinchingly. " Never, Everard! 
There is a secret, but a secret I can never reveal, even to 
you. ])on't ask mo — don't! 
and trust me now!" 

There was a blank pausiB. 
he held her sternly olT. 



If you ever loved me, try 
She tried to clasp him. but 



THE I!AKON£T*S Rlill)i:. 



141 



lak 



mg 



*'Oiic r| uestion more: You knew this secret before you 
married me?" 

"Idid." 

Her head drooped for the first time, and a scarlet suffu- 
sion dyed face and neck. 

" For how long?" 

"For a year." 

*' And that picture the American showed you is a pict« 
ure you know. 

She looked up at him, a wild startled light in her great 
gray eyes. 

" How do you know that?" 

'* I am answered," ho said. *' 1 see 1 am right. Onco 
more. Lady Kingsland," his voice cold and clear, "you 
refuse to tell mo?" 

" I must. Oh, Everard, for pity's sake, trust me! 1 
can not tell you — I dare not!" 

" Enough, madamo! Your accomplice shall!" 

lie turned to go. She made a step between him and the 
door. 

" What are you going to do? Tell me, for 1 will know!" 

" 1 am going to the man who shares your guilty secret, 
madamo; and, by the Heaven above us, I'll have the truth 
out of him if I have to tear it from his throat! Out of 
my way, before I forget you are a woman and strike you 
down at my feet!" 

She staggered back, with a low cry, as if he had struck 
her indeed. He strode past, his step ringing, his eyes 
Hashing, his face livid with jealous rage, straight to tho 
picture-gallery. 

A door at the opposite side of the corridor stood ajar. 
Sybilhi Silver's listening ears heard the last fierce words, 
Sybilla Silver's glittering black eyes saw that last passion- 
ate gesture of repulsion. She saw Harriet, Lady Kings- 
land — tho bride of a month — sink down on the oaken floor, 
quivering in mortal anguish from head to foot; and her 
tall form seemed to tower and dilate with diabolical de- 
light. 

*' Not one year," she cried to her exultant heart—'* not 
one month will I have to wait for my revenge! Lie there, 
poor fool!" with a backward glance of passionate scorn at 
the prostrate figure, " and suffer and die, for what 1 care, 
while I go and prevent your madly jcalouD husband from 



m 



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THE UAIIONET S BRIDE. 



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brjiiiiing my precious liancu. There is to be blood on 
the hands and the brand of Cain on the brow of the last ot 
the Kingslands, or my oath will not be kept; but it must 
not be the ignoble blood of CJeorge Washington Parmalee!" 
She glided away as she spoke, with the swift, serpentine 
grace peculiar to her, to make a third actor in u stormy 
scene. 



CHAPTER XX. 

MR. PARMALEE SWEARS VENGEANCE. 

Sir Everari) strode straight to the picture-gallery, his 
face pale, his eyes Hashing, his hands clinched. 

His step rang like steel along the polished oaken floor, 
and there was an ominous compression of his thin lips that 
might have warned Mr. Parmalce of the storm to come. 
But Mr. Parmalee was squinting through his a2)])aratus at 
a grim, old warrior on the wall, and only just glanced up 
to nod recognition. 

" Morning, Sir EverardI" said the artist, pursuing his 
work. " Fine day for our business — uncommon spring- 
like. You've got a gay old lot of ancestors here, and an- 
cestresses; and stunningly handsome some of 'em is, too, 
and no mistuke!" 

'* Spare your compliments, sir," said the baronet, in 
tones of suppressed rage, " and spare me your presence 
here for the future altogether! The sooner you pack your 
traps and leave this, the surer you will be of finding your- 
self with a sound skin.*' 

*' Hey?" cried Mr. Parmalee, astounded. " What iu 
thunder do you mean?" 

" I mean that I order you out of my house this instant, 
and that I'll break every bone in your villainous carcass if 
ever I catch you inside my gates again!" 
' The artist dropped his tools and stood blankly staring. 

*' 13y ginger! Why, Sir Everard Kingsland, I don'l; un- 
derstand this here! You told me yourself I might come 
here and take the pictures. 1 call this dooscd unhand- 
some treatment — I do, by Ceorgu! going back on a feller 
like this!" 

" You audacious scoundrel!" roared the enraged young 
lord of Kingsland, *' how dare you presume to answer me? 
How dare you stand there rnd look me in the face? If 



THE rAiJONET's BRIDE. 



143 



i called my servants and made thorn lash you outside the 
gates, I would only serve you right! You low-bred, im- 
pertinent ruffian, how dare you write to my wife?" 

It all burst upon Mr. Parmalee like a thunder-clap— 
the baronet had seen his note. 

"Whew!" he whistled, long and shrill, "that's it, is 
it? The cat's out of the bug; the fat's in the fire, and all 
»-8izzin* ! Look here. Sir Everard, don't you get so tearin* 
mad all for notliing. I 'lidn't write no disrespect to her 
ladyship — I didn't, by Jupiter! Miss Silver can tell you 
so, if you've a mind to ask her, or my lady herself, for that 
matter. I jest had a little request to make, and if I could 
have seen her ladyship I wouldn't have writ at all, but she 
kept out of my way, and — " 

" You scoundrel!" cried the i>assionate young baronet, 
wWte with fury, " do you mean to say my wife kept out of 
your way — was afraid of you?" 

"Exactly so, squire," replied the imperturbable for- 
eigner. '• She must 'a' known I had something to say to 
her yesterday when 1 — Well, she knowed it, and she 
kept out of my way — 1 say it again." 

The baronet's face was perfectly livid with suppressed 
rage. 

" And you dare tell me there is a secret between my 
wife and you? Are you not afraid 1 will throw you out of 
yonder window?" 

Mr. Parmalee drew himself stiffly up. 

' Not if I know myself! That is a game two can play 
at. As for the secret," with a sudden sneer, " I ain*t no 
desire to keep it a secret if your wife ain't. Ask her. Sir 
Everard, and if she's willing to tell you, I'm sartin I am. 
But 1 don't think she will, by gosh!" 

The sneering mockery of the last taunt was too much 
for the fier}' young prince of Kingsland. With the yell of 
an enraged tiger he sprung upon Mr. Parmalee, hurled 
him to the ground in a twinkling, and twisted his left 
hand into Mr. Parmalee 's blue cotton neckerchief, show- 
ering blows with his right fast and furious. 

The attack was so swift and savage that Mr. Parmalee 
lay perfectly stunned and helpless, turning unpleaiantly 
black in the face, his eyes staring, the blood gushing. 

Kneeling on his fallen foe, with fiery face and distended 
eyes, Sir Everard looked for the moment an incarnate 









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144 



TTTE TAHONRT S r.UIDR. 



yoiiug demon. It flashed upon liim, swift as lightning, in 
iii.^ sudden madness, \vhat he was about. 

"Til murder him if 1 slay here," lie thought; and as 
the thought crossed his mind, with a shriek and a swish of 
ailk, in rushed Miss Silver and ihmg herself between them. 

" Good Heaven! Sir Everard, have you gone mad? lu 
mercy's name, stop before you have (pjite murdered him!" 

Sir Kverard sprung to his feet, ghastly still, wiLli furious, 
llaming eyes and ijiood-bes])uttered face. 

" Dog — cur!" he cried, spurning the sprawling artist 
with his boot. "" Get n\) and ([uit my ho".:>o, or, by the 
living light above us, I'll blow your bra'ds out as I would 
a mad hound's!" 

He swung round and strode out of the i)ic.ture-gallery, 
and slowly, slowly aro^o the ]>r()stnite her(», with bloody 
face and blacskened eyes. With an utterly bhink and j)ite- 
ous expression of face, Mr. I'armahiesat ajid gazed around, 
and, in spite of the tragic nature of the occurrence, it was 
all Sybilla could do to keep from laughing. 

" Get lip, Mr. Parmalee," she said, " and go away at 
once. The woman at the lodge will give you soap and 
water and a towel, and you can make yourself decent be- 
fore entering th« village. If you don't hurry you'll need 
a guide. Your eyes are as large as bishop pii)pins, and 
closing fast now." 

She nearly laughed again, this tender fianct'e, as she as- 
sisted her slaughtered betrothed to his feet. Mr. Parmalee 
wiped the blood out of his eyes and looked dizzily about 
him. 

" Where is he?" he gasped. 

"Sir Everard? He has gone, after belaboring you 
soundly. I believe he would have killed you outright oidy 
1 came in and tore him off. What on earth did you say 
to infuriate him so?" 

" 1 say?" exclaimed the artist, fiercely. " I said noth- 
ing, and you know it. It was you, you confounded De- 
lilah, you mischief-making deceiver, who showed hiui that 
air note!" 

" I protest I did nothing of the sort!" cried Sybilla, in- 
dignantly. " He was in my lady's room when 1 entered, 
and he saw the note in my hand. She was asleep, and I 
tried to escape and take the note with nie, but he ordered 
me to leave it and go. Of course ! h-ul to obey, if he 



THE I'.AKONKT's IWIIDE. 



145 



in 



road it, it was no fault of mine; but I don't buliovo ho did. 
You have no right to blauiu mo, JVIr. I'anuaioo.'' 

Mr. Parmaloo ground out u buvjigo oiitli botwoon his 
clinchod tooth. 

" ril bo even with him for tliiw, tlin insulting young 
aristocrat! I'll not spuro him nowl J '11 sprcud llu; nows 
far and wido; the very birds in the troos shiill sing it, tho 
story of his wifo's shame! I'll lower that cunscil jwide of 
his boforo another month is over his head, and I'll ha\o 
his handsome wife on her knees to me, as stu'o as my names 
I'armaleo! llo knocked mo down, and ho beat me to a 
jolly, did he? and ho ordered mo out of Jiis houae; and 
he'll shoot mo like a mail dog, will he? Hut I'll be even 
with him; I'll tlx him oil'! I'll make him repent tho day 
ho over lifted his hand to (■. W. Parmalee!" 

Miss Silver listened to his eloquent outburst of fooling 
with greedy, glistening blauk eyes, and patted her lover 
soothingly on tho shoulder. 

"So you shall. I like to hear you tiilk like that. 
You're a glorious follow, (Jeorge, and Sybilla will help 
you; for, listen " — she came close and hissed the words in 
a venomous whisper—" I hate Sir Everard Kingsland and 
ull his race, and I hate his upstart wife, with her high 
and mighty airs, and I would see them both deail at my 
feet with all the pleasure in life!" 

" You got out!" rejoined Mr. Parmalee, recoiling and 
c'iippiug his hand to his oar. " I told you before, Sybilla, 
not to whist/ 3 in a fellow's car like that. It goes through 
a chap like cold stool. As to your hating them, 1 believe 
in my soul you hate most people; and women like you, 
with big, flashing black eyes, are apt to be uticommon good 
haters, too. But what have they done to you? 1 always 
took 'em to be good friends to you, my girl. " 

Sybilla Silver laughed — a hard laugh and mirthless, and 
most unpleasant to hear. 

" You have read the fable, Mr. Parmalee, of the man 
who found the frozen adder, and who warmed and cher- 
ished it in his bosom, until ho restored it to life? Well, 
Sir Everard found me, homeless, friendless, penniless, and 
he took me with him, and fed me, clothed me, protected 
me, and treated me like a sister. Tho adder in the fablo 
stung its preserver to death, 1, Mr. I'armalee, if you over 



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116 



THE BAllONKTH niirPF. 



At'l iiiclijied to poison Sir Evortird, will mix tho pofciou and 
lioM til') bowl, and watoli his doiilli-tliroos!'^ 

Mr. Pariujiloe looked ;it tho bonnlifiil KiKnikor in iwton- 
iHlimunt not unmixod with dis^'ust. IFfr eyos whono liko 
midiii<^diL dturs, und a li^dit such uh nii;j:lit fitly illuminatu 
King Liirifor's irrndiiited her dusky lu-iuity. 

" (fO along with yon!" «;ud tho Anierican, bogirniing to 
foUuot his traps. " Yon'ro a bad one, you are, if ever 
there was a bail one yet! I don't like su(ih lingo — I don't, 
by (jeorgel 1 never took yon for an angel, but J vow I 
didn't think you were the cantaidvorous little toad you are! 
J don't .set u[) to be a saitit myself, and if a nnin knoeks mo 
down and pummels my innards out for nothin', I caleulato 
to lix liis ilint, if J ean; but you— shool you're a little devil 
on airth, and that's my opinion of you." 

Sybilla's eyes Hashed, lialf in amusement, half in anger. 

" With such a complimentary opinion of me, then, Mr. 
Parmalee, I preaumo oiu' late [lat tnership is dissolved?" 

'* Nothing of the sort! I like grit, and if you've got 
rayther more than your share, why, when you're Mrs. 
Parmalee it will be amusing to take it out of you. And 
now I'm olf, and by all that's great and glorious, there'll 
bo howling and gnashing of teeth in this hero old shop 
before I return." 

" You go without seeing my laily, then?" said Sybilla. 

" My lady's got to come to mo!" retorted tlie artist, 
sullenly. " Jt's her turn to eat hmnblo pie now, and 
she'll finish tho dish, by George, before I've done with hor! 
I'm going back to the tavern, down the village, and so you 
can toll her; and if she wants me, she can i>ut her pride 
in her pocket and come there and find me." 

'* And 1, too?" said Sybilla, anxiously, keeping by his 
side as Mr. Parmalee stalked in sulky displeasure along. 
" Kemomeber your promise to reveal all to me, George. 
Am 1 to seek yon out at tho inn, too, and await your sov- 
ereign pleasure?" 

Sho laid her hands on his shoulders and looked up in his 
face with eyes few men could resist. They were quite 
alone in the vast hall — no prying eyes to see that tender 
caress. Mr. . Parmalee was a good deal of a stoic and a 
little of a cynic; but he was llesh and blood, as even stoics 
'-nd cynics are when you come down to tbe. fime thiitg, luoid 



«.. i WJ'i 



Tlii; liAUONKT tJ l;ini)E. 



147 



in his 

quite 

tender 

1 and a 

1 stoics 

. aod 



thu iriuii iiiulur bixty wuh not. born who roiihi have rutiidted 
tliat dark, bcnviUihin^s \vhi!udling, hcauLii'nl face. 

Tho Anirrican arU.st took \un' in his h>ng aiinti with a 
vigorous huj^, and favorud Irt with a sounding' kint). 

'* I'll tt'll you, Sybilla. Ifangnd if J don't biiliove you 
oaii twiiit nil! round your little lin^^u- if you oiiooso! You're 
a^ j)ri'tty aa a j)iiJturo — you an;, I Kwoar, and I lovo you 
liku all (MTation; and 1'!! niarrv you jusjt as soon an this 
littlo businr^s is t^rLllcd, and I'il tako you to Maino, and 
kuoj) you in Lho tallest soiL of olovor. 1 ncvor calk'lati'il on 
liavin^f a Uriiish <r il for a wife; but you're handdonio enough 
and sptniky enou.:;h for a ])residc'nt s laily, and I don't earo 
a tlarn what tlu) folks roinid our section way about it. I'll 
tell you, Sybilla; but you mustn't s})lit to a livinj^ uoul, or 
my caku*« dtiugli. 'L'hey say a woman can't keep a secret; 
but you must try, if you should burst for it. 1 reckon my 
laily will (!ome down lianilsomely before I've done with 
her, anil you and me, Sybilla, can go to housekoe])ing 
across the three thousand miles of everlasting wet in tip- 
top style. Come to-night; you've got to come to me now. 
Jt s as much nc a fellow's life is worth to set foot here any 
more; and, by gracious! I ain't going to get thrashed by 
the llunkies for all the baronets and their brides this side 
of kingdom come!" 

" No," Sybilla said, thoughtfully; " of course not. Ant 
1 must go with you no fia-thor, lest we should be seen to- 
gether and our intimacy suspected. I sup])08e 1 will liud 
you at the inn?" 

" I sui)poseso. 'Tain't likely," said Mr. Parmalee, with 
a sulky sense of injury, " you'll lind mo prancing up 'ind 
down the vilhige with Lhis here face. I'll get the old woman 
to do it up in brown paper and vinegar when I go home, 
and I'll stay abed and smoke until dark. You won't come 
afore dark, will you?" 

" No; 1 don't want to be recognized; and you must be 
jirepared to come out with me when 1 do. I'll disguise 
myself. Ah! suppose I disguise myself in men's clothes? 
You won't mind, will you?" 

"]>ygosli! no, if you don't. Men's clothes! What a 
rum one you are. Miss Silvei-? Dooseil good-looking little 
feller you'll niak«. But why are you so skeery about it?" 

" Why? Need you ask? Would Sir Everard permit me 
to remain in his house one hour if he suspected I was his 



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148 



THE BARONET 'y JJKIDE. 



tmemy's friend? Have you any message to deliver to my 
lady before we part?" 

" No. She'll send a me«sage to me during the day, or 
I'm mistaken. If she don't, why, 1*11 send one back witli 
you to-night. By-bye, Mrs. Parmalce that is to bo. Take 
'jare of yourself until to-night." 

The gentleman walked down the stair- way alone toward 
a side entrance. The lady stood on the landing above, 
looking after him with a bitter, sneeri ^ smile. 

'•Mrs. Parma'ee, indeed! You besotted idiot — you 
blind, conceited lool! Twist you round my little finger, 
can I? Yes, you great, hulking simpleton, and ten times 
better men! Let me worm your secret out of you — let mo 
squeeze my sponge dry, and then see how 1*11 flirg you into 
your native gutter!'* 

Mr. Parmalee, on his way out, stopped at the pretty 
rustic lodge and bathed his swollen and discolored visage. 
The lodge-keeper's wife was all sympathy and questions. 
How on earth did it happen? 

" Run up against the 'Icctric telegraph, ma'am,** re- 
plied Mr. Parmalee, sulkily; "and there was a message 
coming full speed, and it knocked me over. Morning. 
Much obliged.*' 

He walked away. Outside the gates he paused and 
shook his clinched fist menacingly at the noble old house. 

" I'll pay you out, my fine feller, if ever I get a chance! 
You're a very great man, and a very proud man. Sir Ever- 
ard Kingsland, and you own a fine fortune and a haughty, 
handsome wife, and G. W. Parmalee's no more than the 
mud under your feet. Very well — we'll see! ' Every dog 
has bis day,' and ' the longest lane has its turning,' and 
you're near about the end of your tether, and George 
Parmalee has you and your fine lady under his thumb — 
under his thumb — and he'll crush you, sir — yes, by Heaven, 
he'il crush you, and strike you back blow for blow!" 

Shaking the dust of Kingsland off his feet, Mr. Par- 
malee stalked like a sulky lion back to the Blue Bell Inn, 
and electrified everybody there by the transformation he 
had so suddenly undergone. 

True to his word, he ordered unlimited supplies of brown 
paper and vinegar, rum and water, pipes and tobacco, 
swore at his questioners, and adjourned to his bedroom la 
await the coming of nightfall and Sybilla Silver. 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



14ft 



my 



or 



re- 



Vhe short winter ilay wore on. A good conscience, a 
sound digestion, rum and smoke ad libitum, enabled our 
wounded artist to sleep comfortably through it, and he was 
still snoring vociferously when Mrs. Wedge, the landlady, 
cjime to his bedside with a llaring tallov\r candle, and woke 
luni up. 

" Which I've been a-knockin' and a-knockin'," Mrs. 
Wedge crietl, slirilly, *' fit to knock the skin off my blessed 
knuckles, Mr. Parmalee, and couldn't wake you no 
more'n the dead. And he's a-waitin' down-stairs, which 
he won't come up, but says it's most particular, and must 
see you at once." 

'* Hold your noisel" growled the artist, tumbling out of 
bed. *' What's o'clock? Leave th:it candle and clear out, 
and tell the young feller I'll be down in a brace of shakes. 
It is a young fellow, isn't it?" 

'* I couldn't see him," replied Mrs. Wedge, " which he's 
that muffled up in a long cloak and a cap drawed down 
that his own mother herself couldn't tell him hout there 
in the dark. Was you a-expectin' of him, sir?" 

** That's no business of yours, Mrs. Wedge," the Amer- 
ican answered, grimly. "You can go." 

Mrs. Wedg3 departed in displeasure, and tried again to 
see the muffled stranger. But h'j was looking out into the 
starlit darkness, and the good landlady vas completely 
baffled. 

She saw her lodger join him; she saw the hero of the 
cloak take his arm, and both walk briskly away. 

" By George! this is a disguise!" exolaimed Mr. Parma- 
lee. "' 1 wouldn't recognize you at noonday, Sybilla, in 
this trim. Do you know who 1 took you for until you 
spoke?" 

" Whom?" 

** Sir Everard himself. You're as like him as two peas 
in that rig, only not so tall." 

*' The cloak and cap are his," Miss Silver c^nswered, 
" which perhaps accounts — " 

But Mr. Parmalee, watching her curiously, shook his 
head. 

** No," be said, ** there's more than that, i might put 
on that cap and cloak, but I wouldn't look like the bar- 
onet. Your Toioes sound alike, and there's a general air 



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150 



THE BARONET'S BRIDE. 



i I 



— 1 can't describe it, but you kuow what I mean. You're 
no relation of his, are you, Sybilla?" 

gybilla laughed — the strangest laugh. 

" A relation of the Prince of Kiugsland — poor little 
Sybilla Silver! My good Mr. Parmalee, what an absurd 
idea! You do me proud even to hint that the blue blood 
of all the Kingslands could by any chance flow in these 
plebeian veins! Oh, no, indeed! I am only an upper serv- 
ant in that great house, and '.vould lose my place within 
the hour if its lordly master dreamed 1 was here talking to 
the man he hates. How is your poor face, Mr. Parmalee?" 

Miss Silver's voice faltered a little as she put the ques- 
tion, perhaps with inward puin, perhaps with inward 
laughter — her companion couldn't tell, in that dim star- 
light. They had left the village behind them, and were 
out on the breezy common. 

'* And my lady," the arti«t asked — " any news from 
ker?" 

,*' Not a word. She came down to dinner beautifully 
dressed, but white as the snow lying yonder. She and Sir 
Bverard dined Ute-a-tHe. I take my meals with the 
housekeeper, now," smiling bitterly. " My Lady Harriet 
doesn't like me. The butler told me they did not speak 
six words during the whole time of dinner." 

" Both in the sulks," said Mr. Parmalee. '* Well, it's 
natural. He's dying to know, and she'll be torn to pieces 
afore she breathes a word. She's that sort. But this 
shyin' and holding off won't do with mo. I'm getting tired 
of waiting, and — and so's another party up to London. 
Tell her so, Sybilla, with G. W. P.'s compliments, and 
aay that I give her just two more days, and if she doesn't 
come to book before the e. d of that time, I'll sell her 
secret to the highest bidder." 

'*Ye8!" Sybilla said, breathlessly; "and now for that 
secret, George!" 

" You won't tell?" cried Mr. Parmalee, a little alarmed 
at this precipitation. " Say you won't — never — so help 

Now go on!" 



you! 

" Never — I swear it. 



An hour later, Sybilla Silver, in her impenetrable dia- 
guiso, re-entered Kiugsland Court, No one had seen her 



THE BAIIOJSET'S BlilDE. 



151 



go — no one saw her return. She gained her own room 
and took oft her disguise unobserved. 

Once only on her way to it she had paused — before my 
Jady's door— and the dark, beautiful face, wreathed with 
a deadly smile of hate and exultation, was horribly trans- 
formed to the face of a malignant, merciless, all-powerf ui 
demon. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

A STORM BREWING. 

The fever of love, the fever of jealousy, like other chills 
and fevers, have their hot spells and their cold ones. 

Sir Everard Kingslaud was blazing in the very hottest 
of the flame when he tore himself forcibly away from the 
artist and buried himself in his study. The unutterablo 
degradation of it all, the horrible humiliation that this 
man and his wife — his — were bound together bv some 
mysterious secret, nearly drove him mad. 

" Where there is mystery there must be guilt!" he 
fiercely thought. " Nothing under heaven can make it 
right for a wife to have a secret from her husband. And 
she knew it, and concealed it before she married me, and 
means to deceive me until the end. In a week her name 
and that of this low-bred ruffian will be bandied together 
throughout the country. Good heavens, the thought is 
enough to drive me mad!" 

And then, like a man mad indeed, he tore up and down 
the apartment, his hands clinched, his face ghastly, his 
eyes bloodshot. And then — oh, strange and incompre- 
hensible insanity of passion ! — all doubts and fears were 
swept away, and love rushed back in an impetuous torrent, 
and he knew that to lose her were ten thousand times 
worse than death. 

" My beautiful! my own! my darling! May Heaven pity 
us both! for be your secret what it may, I can not lose you 
— I can not! Life without you were tenfold worse than the 
bitterest death! My own poor girl! 1 know she suffers, 
too, for this miserable secret, this sin of others — for such 
it must be. She looked up in my face with truthful, inno- 
cent eyes, and told nie .she never saw this man until she 
met him that day in the library, and I know she spoke the 
truth I My love, my wife! You asked me to trust you. 



I ; 






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THE BAKONFr S BIllDE. 



!; 



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nN 



and I thrust you aside! I spoke and acted like a bruto! L 
will trust you! 1 will wait! 1 will never doubt you again, 
my own beloved bride!" 

And then, in a paroxysm of love and remorse, the young 
husband strode out of the library and upstairs to his wife's 
room. Uo found her alone, sitting by the window, in her 
loose white morning-robe, a book lying idly on her knee, 
herself whiter than the dress she wore. She was not read- 
ing — the book lay listless, the dark eyes looked straight be- 
fore them with an unutterable pathos that it wrung his 
heart to see. 

" My love! my life!" He had her in his strong arms, 
strainoil to his breast as if he never meant to let her go. 
" My own dear Harrie! Can you ever forgive me for the 
brutal words I used — for the brutal way 1 acted?" 

She gave a low cry of joy, and sunk down on his breast 
with a look of such infinite love and thankfulness that it 
haunted liim to his dying day. 

"My Everard! my beloved husband! My darling! my 
darling! You are not — you will not be angry with your 
poor little Harrie?" 

" I could not, my life! What is the world worth to us 
if wo can not love and trust? I do love you, God alone 
knows how well! I will trust you, though all the world 
should rise up against you! " 

Again that cry of joy — again that clinging, straining 
clasp. 

"Thank Heaven! thank Heaven! Everard, dearest, I 
can not tell you — I can not — how miserable 1 have been! 
If I lost your love 1 should die! Trust me, my husband 
— trust me! Love me! I have no one left in the wide 
world but you!" 

She broke down in a wild storm of womanly weeping. 
He held her in silence — the hysterics did her good. He 
only knew that he loved her with a passionate, consuming 
love, and not ten million secrets could keep them apart. 

Presently she raised her head and looked at him, very 
pale, and with wild, wide eyes of fear. 

" Everard, have you — have you seen that man?" 

His hoart contracted with a sudden sharp pang, but he 
strove to restrain himself and bo culm. 

" Parmalee? Yes, Harrie; I loft him not an hour ago." 

*' And he— Everard. for God's sake—" 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



153 



Her white lips refused to finisli the sentence. 

" He told me nothing, Ilarrie,'* and the bitterness of his 
heart tinged his voice in spite of himself. " You and he 
keep your secrets well, lie told me nothing, and he is 
gone. He will never come back here more." 

He looked at her keenly, suspiciously, as he said it. 
AlasI the intermittent fever was taking its hot fit again. 
But she dropped her face on his shoulder and hid it. 

" Has lie left the villasre, Everard?" very faintly. 

" I nan not say. I only know I have forbid^len him this 
place," he replied, in a hard, wrung voice. " Harrie, 
Harrie, my little wife! You are very merciless! You are 
torturing me, and 1 — I would die to save you an instant's 
pain!" 

At that eloquent cry she slipped out of his arms and fell 
on her knees before him, her clasped hands hiding her face. 

" May God grant me a short life!" was her frenzied cry, 
"' for I never can tell you — never, Everard, not on my dy- 
ing bed — the secret I have sworn to keep!" 

" Sworn to keep!" It flashed upon him like a revela- 
tion. " Sworn to whom? to your father, Harrie?" 

" Do not ask me! I can tell you nothing — I dare not! 
I am bound by an awful vow! And, oh, I think I am the 
most wretched creature in the wide world !' ' 

He raised her up; he kissed the white, despairing face 
again and again — a rain of rapturous kisses. A ton weight 
seemed suddenly lifted otf his heart. 

'* I see it all," he cried — '* 1 see it all now! Fool that I 
was not to understand sooner. There was some mystery, 
some guilt, perhaps, in Captain Hunsden's life, and he 
revealed it to you on his death-bed, and made you swear to 
keep his secret. Am I not right?" 

She did not look up. He could feel her shivering from 
head to foot. 

"Yes, Everard." 

*' And this man — this American — has in some way found 
it out, and wishes to trade upon it, to extort money from 
you? I have often heard of such things. Am I right 
again?" 

'* Yes, Everard," very faint and sad. 

'* Then, my own dearest, leave me to deal with him; see 
him and fear him no more. 1 will seek him out. I will 



nii 



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THE BARONET'S BRIDE. 



il 



not ask to know it. 1 will pay him his price and iecd 
him about his bnsiness." 

He rose impetuously as he spoke, eager to rid himself of 
his incubus on the spot. But Harriet clung to him with 
a strange, white face. 

*' No, no, no!" she cried. " It would not do. You 
could not satisfy him. You donH know — " She stopped 
distractedly. '* Oh, Everard, I can^t explain. You are 
all kindness, all generosity, ail goodness; but I must set- 
tle with this man myself. Don't go near him — don't ask 
to see him. It could do no good. ' 

He withdrew himself from her, freezing to marble at 
once. 

" I am not right, then, after all. The secret is yours, 
not your father's?" 

" Do not ask me! If the sin is not mine, the atonement 
— the bitter atonement — is, at least. Everard, look at me 
— see! I love you with all my heart. I would not tell 
you a lie. I never committed a deed, I never indulgea a 
thought of my own, you are not free to know. I never 
saw this man until that day in the library. Oh, believe 
this and trust me, and don't ask me to break my oath!"' 

" 1 will not!" He bent over her with unutterable love, 
and kissed the beautiful, pleading face. " I believe you; 
I trust you. 1 ask no more. Get rid of this man, and be 
happy once again. We will not even talk of it longer; and 
— will you come with me to my mother's, Harrie? I dine 
there, you know, to-day." 

"My head aches. Not to-day, I think. What time 
will you return?" 

" Before ten." He pulled out his watch. " And, as I 
have a little magisterial business to transact down in the 
village, it is time I was off. Adieu, my own love! Forget 
the harsh words, and be my own happy, radiant, beautiful 
bride once more.^' 

She lifted her face and smiled — a smile as wan and fleet- 
ing as moonlight on snow. 

Sir Everard hastened to his room to dress, striving with 
all his might to drive every suspicion out of his mind. 

He must trust and hope, for his own sake as well as for 
hers, for 

" To be wroth with one wo love 
Doth work like madness on the brain." 



THE BATlONET'n BRIDE. 



I6t 



And she — she flun^ hoj'self on the sofa, face downward, 
afid lay there as if she novor cared to rise again. 

" Papa, papa!" hIio Mailed, " what have you done — 
what have yon done?'* 

All that day Lady Kingsland kept her room. Tier maid 
brought her what she wanted. Sir Everard returned at 
the appointed hour, looking gloon^y and downcast. 

His evening at his ni )ther's had not been a pleasant one 
— that was evident, lerhaps some vague hint of the dark- 
ening mystery had already reached The Grange. 

" My mother feels rather hurt, Ilarrio,^^ he said, some- 
what coldly, " that you did not accompany me. She is 
unable to call on you, owing to a severe cold. Mildred is 
absorbed in waiting upon her, and desires to see you ex- 
ceedingly. I promised them we would both dine there to- 
morrow and spend the evening. " 

His tone admitted of no refusal. But Harris was too 
spiritless and worn to offer any. 

" As you please, Everard" she said, wearily. " It is all 
tho same to me. " 

She descended to breakfast nexl morning carefully dressed 
to meet the fastidious eye of her husband. But she eat 
nothing. A gloomy presentiment of impending evil 
weighed down her heart like lead. Her husband made lit- 
tle effort to rouse her — the contagious gloom affected him, 
too. 

" It is the weather, I dare say," he remarked, looking 
out at the bleak, wintery day, the leaden sky, the wailing 
wind. " This February gloom is enough to give a man the 
megrims. I must face it, too, for to-day I ' meet the cap- 
tains at the citadel ' — thak is to say, I promised to ride 
over to Major Warden's about noon. You will be ready, 
Harrie, when I return to accompany me to The Grange?" 

She promised, and he departed ; and then, with a slow 
and weary step. Lady Kingsland ascended to her own 
apartment. 

While she stood there, gazing blankly out at the gray 
desolation of the February morning, there was a soft tap 
at the door. 

" Come in!" she said, thinking it her maid; and thedoor 
opened, and Sybilla Silver, shod with the shoes of silence, 
entered. 

Lady Kingsland faced round and looked a*" her. How 



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THE BAYONET'S TRTDE. 



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m' 1 






handsome slie was! That was her first involuntary thonghfc. 
Her sweeping bHcK robes leli around her tall, I'ogal figure 
with queenly graoe, the blade eyes sparkled with living 
lUiht, a more vivid scarlet than usual lighted up each 
dusky cheek. She looked gloriously beautiful standing 
there. Mr. Parmalee would surely have been dazzled had 
he seen her. 

There was [i moment's pause. The two women eyed 
each other, us accomplished swordsmen may on the eve of 
a di\<J. Very pnle, very proud, looked my lady. Hlie dis- 
liked and distrusted this brilliant, black-e3'ed Miss hjilvcr, 
and Miss Silver knew it well. 

"You wish to speak with me, Miss Silver?" my lady 
said, in her most superb manner. 

*' Yes, my lady — most particularly, and (juite alone. ] 
beg your pardon, but your maid is not within liearlng, f 
crust ?*' 

" We are quite alone," very coldly. " Speak out; no 
one can overhear you.'* 

" I do not care for myself," Sybilla said, her glittering 
black eyes meeting the proud gray cues. " It is for your 
sake, my lady." 

" For my sake!" in haughty omaze. "You can have 
nothing to say to me. Miss Silver, the whole world may not 
overhear. If yo'^. intend to he impertinent. I shall order 
you out of the room. " 

" One moment, my lady: you go to fast. The whole 
world may not overhear the message Mr. Parmalee sends 
you by me." 

" Ah!"— my lady recoiled as though ai^ adder had stung 
her — "always that m^n! Speak ou^ then" — turning; 
swiftly upon her husbmd's protegee — " what is the mes- 
sage this man sends me by you?" 

" That if you do jot meet him within two days, he will 
sell your secret to the highest bidder." 

Sybilla delivered, word for word, the words of the Amer- 
ican — cruelly, slowly, sigmiicantly — looking her still 
straight in the eyes. Those clear gray eyes flashed with a 
tierce, defiant light, 

" You know all?" she cried. 

Sybilla Silver bowed her head. 

" 1 know all," she answered. 

Dead silence fell. White as a dead woman, Lady Kings- 



THE ]JAII<)N1:T.S JMtlUE. 



167 



ch 



land stood, liur eyes abla/c; vvifli fioroe, coiKsuniiii:; firu. 
Sybillii liitulo a stcf) forward, sunk down buforo Iiur, and 
lifted liur liaiid to lur Jips. 

" Ho told ni(i all, my dear lady; but your secrot is safo 
with me. fSybiMa will bo your true and faitbftd, though 
hunddo, irieiid, if you will let her. J)tar Lady Kingsland, 
don't look at nio with that stony, angry face. J luive n'l 
wish but to servo you/' 

TJic gracious speeeh met with but an ungracious return. 
My hidy snatched hv,v hand away, as though from a snake, 
and gazed' at her with iiashing eyes of scorji and distrust. 

" What are you to this man. Miss Silver?" she asked. 
'* Why should he tell you?" 

" I am his plighted wife," replied Sybilla, trying to call 
up a conscious blush. 

" Ah, I see!" my lady said, scornfully. '* Permit mo 
to coi:gr.'itulate you on tiic excellent execution your bltick 
eyes have wrought. You are a very clever girl. Miss Sil- 
ver, and I think I understand you thoroughly, i am oidy 
surprised you did not carry your discovery straight to ►Sir 
Everard Kingsluiid. " 

'* Your ladyship is most unjust," Sybilla Hiiid, turning 
away, '' unkind and cruel. I have delivered my message, 
and I will go." 

" Wait one moment," my hidv said, in her clear sweet 
voice, luM* proud faoo gleaming with a (tynical smile. " To- 
Hiorrow evening it will be impossible for me to see Mr. 
Parmalee — there is to be a dinner-jjurty at the house — 
during the day still more imi)08sible. Since he commands 
me to see him, I will do so to-night, and throw over my 
other engagements. At eight this evening I will be in the 
IJeech Walk, and alone. Let Mr. Parmalee come to me 
there." 

A gleam of diabolical triumph lighted up the great black 
cjcs of rSybilla, but the profound bow she made concealed 
it. 

** 1 will tell him, my lady," she said, " and he will be 
there without lail." 

She (|U)*,ted the room, closed the door, and looked back 
at it as Satan may have looked back at Kdcn after van- 
quishing Eve. 

" My triumph begins," she said to herself. "■ I have 



!'(! 



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158 



THE riAIlONET'S BRIDE. 



caught you nicely this time, my lady. You and Mr. Par- 
muleo will not bo alniio in tlie IJeooh Walk to-night.'* 

Left to herself, Harriet stood for a moment motionless. 
With all her pride and her strength gone, she sunk down 
into her laeat, hor hands clasped over her heart. 

" She too,'* she murmured, " my arch-enemy! Oh, my 
God, help mo to bear it— help me to keep tlio horrible 
truth from the husband 1 love! She will not tell him. 
She knows he would never endure hor from the hour she 
would make the revelation; and that thought alone re- 
strains her. It will kill me — this agonizing fear and hor- 
ror 1 And better so — better to die now, while ho loves me, 
than live to be hated and loathed when he discovers the 
truth!" 

Sir Everard Kingsland, riding home in the yellow, win- 
tery sunset, found my lady lying on a lounge in her boudoir, 
her maid beside her, bathing her forehead with eau-de- 
Oolognc. His brow contracted with a little spasm of dis- 
appointment. 

" Headache again, Harrie?" he said. " You are grow- 
ing a complete martyr to tliat feminine malady of late. I 
had hoped to find you dressed and ready to accompany me 
to The Grange.*' 

" I »m sorry, Everard, but this evening it is impossible. 
Make my excuses to her ladyship, and tell her 1 hope to 
see her soon." 

She did not look up as she said it, and her husband, 
stooping, imprinted a kiss on the colorless cheek. 

" My poor, pale girl! 1 will send Edwards with an 
apology to The Grange, and remain at home with you." 

" No!" Harriet cried, hastily; " not on any account. 
You must not disappoint your mother, Everard; you must 
go. There, good-bye! It is time you were dressing. Don't 
mind me; I will be better when you return." 

But he lingered still, with a strangely yearning, troubled 
face. 

*' I feel as though 1 ought not to leave you to-night," he 
said. " It seems heartless, and you ill. 1 had better send 
Edwards and the apology." 

'* You foolish boy!" She looked up at him and smiled, 
with eyes full of tears. " I will bo better alone and quiet. 
Sleep and solitude will quite restore me. Go! goJ You 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



16J 



will be late as it is, and my latly dislikes being kept wait- 
ing. " 

He kissed her and went, casting one long, lingering back- 
ward look at tho wife ho loved. And with a pang bitterer 
than death camo tho rcmoinbranco afterward of how she 
had urged him to leave lier tliat night. 

Thus they parted — to look into each other's eyes no more 
in love and trust for a dark and tragic time. 

Sybilla Silver, standing at the houje door, was gazing 
out at the yellow February sun sinking pale and watery 
into the livid horizon line, as the baronet ran down-staira, 
drawing on his gloves. Ho paused, with his usual court* 
osy, to speak to his dependent as he went by. 

•' Th'3 sky yonder looks ominous," ho said, *' and thia 
wailing, icy blast is the very desolation of desolation. 
There is a stor?,i brewing." 

Miss Silver's black eyes gleamed, and her white teeth 
showed in a sinister smile. 

*' A storm?" she repeated. " Yes, I think there is, and 
yon will be caught m it. Sir Everard, if you stay late. 
The storm will break very soon I" 



CHAPTER XXIL 

AT NIGHT IN THE BEECH WALK. 

The instant Sir Everard was out of sight Sybilla ran up 
to her chamber, and presently reappeared, dressed for a 
ival't. 

Even the long, shrouding mantle she wore could not 
disguise the exquisite symmetry of her graceful form, and 
tho thick brown veil could not dim the luster of her tlash- 
ing Assyrian eyes. She smiled back, before flitting away, 
>\t the dark, bright, sparkling face her mirror showed her. 

" Youjiaro a very pretty person, my dear Miss Silver," 
she said — " prettier even than my lady herself, though 1 
fiay it. Worlds have been lost for leas handsome faces than 
this in the glorious days gone by, ami Mr. Parmaleo will 
have every reason to be proud of his wife — when he geta 
her." 

She ran lightly down-stairs, a saroastio smile still on h«p 
Jiips«. In the lower hall stood Mr. Edwards, the valet, dis- 
consolately gazing at the threatening prospect. He turoed 



M 1 



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160 



THE TIATIOTTFT'S BRTDF. 



around, and hiadull oyoK liglitod up at sight of thifl dark- 
ling viwion of beauty — for Mr. I'armaleo was by no means 
tlut only gontloman with the {^ood tasto to adniiro hand- 
some Sybilla. 

'* (loing hout, Miss Hilvor!" Mr. Edwards asked, in 
languid surprise. " lluncommon urgent your business 
must bo to take you from 'omo suoli a Iievening as this. 
'Ow'n my lady?" 

" My iady is not at all well, Mr. Edwards/' answered 
Rybilla. " Sir Everard was obliged to go alone to his 
mother's, my lady's headache is so intense. (Uaudino is 
with her, I believe. We are going to have a storm, are wo 
not? I shall be obliged to hurry back." 

She flitted away as she spoke, drawing down her veil, 
and disappearing while yet Mr. Edwards was trying to 
make a languid proffer of his services as escort, llo 
lounged easily up against the window, gazing with calm 
admiration after her. 

'* An huncommon 'andsomo and lady-looking young 
pusson that," rollected Sir Everard's gentleman. "I 
shouldn't mind basking her to be my missus one of these 
days. That face of hers and them dashing ways would 
take helegantly behind the bar of a public. " 

Unconscious of the admiration she was eliciting in the 
bosom of Mr. Edwards, Sybilla sped on her way down the 
village to the Blue Bell. Just before she reached the inn 
she encountered Mr. Parmalee himself, taking a constitu- 
tional, a cigar in his mouth, and his hands deep in his 
trousers pockets. Ho met and greeted his fair betrothed 
with natural phlegm. 

" How do, Sybilla?" nodding and smoking steadily on. 
" 1 kind of thought you'd be after me, and so 1 stejiped 
out. You've been and delivered that there little message 
of mine, I suppose?" 

*' Yes," said Sybilla; *' and she will meet you to-night 
in the Beech Walk, and hear what you have got to say." 

*'The deuce she will!" said the artist; "and have her 
fire-eating husband catch us and set the flunkies at me. 
Not if 1 know myself. If my lady wants to hear what 
I've got to say, lot my lady come to me." 

" She never will," responded Sybilla. " You don't 
know her. Don't be an idiot, George — do as she requestSo 
Meet her to-night in the Beech Walk," 



THE baronet's hHitm, 



161 



•k- 



-'' And Imvo tho baronot como u])on usliko a roaring lion 
m tho middio of our confab! Look horo, Sybilla, I ain't a 
cowardly foUcr, you know, in tho main; but, by (ioorgo! 
it ain't ])loa8ant to bo hor8uwhim)od by an outragooua 
young baronet or kicked from tuo gatos by his under- 
Htram)or8." 

" Tliore 18 no danger. Sir Evorard is not at homo, and 
will not 1)0 before ton o'clock at least, lie ia gone to dine 
at The (i range with his mother; and my lady was to have 
gone too. but your message frightenotl her, and she told 
him little white lies, and insisted on his going by himself. 
And, you silly old 8tuj)id, if you had two ideas in your 
head, you would see that this o})portunity of braving his 
express command, and entering the lion's den to meet his 
wife by night and by stealth, ia the most gloriouj* o])por- 
tunity of revenge you could have. Sir Evorard is nearly 
mud with jealousy and suspicion already. What will he be 
when he finds his wife of a month has lied to him to ■ '.eet 
you alone and in secret at the Beech Walk? 1 tell you, 
Mr. Parmalee, you will be gloriously revenged !" 

** 13y thunder!'' cried tho artist, '* 1 never thought of 
that. I'll do it, Sybilla— I'll do it, so help me! Tell my 
lady I'll bo there right on the minute; and do you take 
care that confounded conceited baronet finds it out. I 
said I'd pay him off for every blow, and I'll do it, by the 
Eternal !^^ 

" And strike through her!" hissed Sybilla, with glitter- 
ing black eyes, " and every blow will go straight through 
the core of his proud heart. We'll torture him, (leorgo 
Parmalee, t»o man never was tortured before." 

Mr. Parmalee looked at her, rather taken aback, as he 
always was when she burst out with the deadly inward firo 
that tilled her. 

*' What a little devil you are, Sybilla!" he said, with 
lover-like candor. '* I've hoard tell that you wimmin 
knock us men into a cocked hat in the way of hating, and 
I now begin to think it ia true. What has this 'ere bar- 
onet done to you, I should admire to know? You don't 
liate him like the old sarpent for nothing." 

" What has he done to me?" rei)eated Sybilla, with a 
strange, slow smile. ** That is easily told. He gave me 
a home when I was homeless; ho was my friend when I 
wai friendless. I have broken liii:! bread and drunk of his 



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162 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



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cup, and slept under his roof, and — I hato him, I hate 
him, I hate film!" 

Her hands and teeth clinched in a deadly spasm of sup- 
pressed fury; her two eyes blazed like lurid l^ames. Mr. 
Farmaleo tooii out his cigar and stared at her in horror. 

*' 1 tell you what it is, Miss Silver," he said, after an 
aghast pause, " I don't like this sort of thing — I don't, by 
George! I ain't surjirised at a person hating a pe»3on, be- 
caui?o 1 hate him myself; but for a young woman that is 
going to be my wife to cut up like this here, and eweftr 
everlasting vengeance — well, I don't like it You see, 
wild cats ain't the most comfortable sort of pets a man 
can have in his house, and how do I know but it may ba 
my turn next?" 

Miss Silver laughed, and her face cleared instantly. She 
laid her hand on his arm and looked up in his face with 
shining, bewitching eyes. 

*' You precious old stupid! As if I could hate you, if I 
tried. No, no, George; you may truot Sybilla. The wild 
cat will sheathe her cla^v^s in triple folds of velvet for you." 

"Humph!" said Mr. Paiuialoe; "but the claws will 
still be there. However, 1 ain't a-going to quarrel with 
you about it. I like a spunky woman, and I hate him. 
I'll meet my lady to-night, ahd you see that my lady's 
husband finds it out." 

" Until then," responded Sybilla, folding her mantle 
closer about her, " remember the hour — eight sharp — and 
don't keep her waiting. Before he sleeps to-night the 

fn'oudest baronet in the realm shall know why his wife de- 
iberately deceived him to meet a strange man by night and 
by stealth in the park, where her husband had ordered 
him never to set foot again." 

She fluttered away in the chill spring twilight with the 
last words, leaving her fiance gazing after her with an ex- 
pression that was not altogether unmixed admiration. 

" I'll be darned if I ever met the like of you. Miss Sil- 
ver, in all my travels. You might be own sister to Luci- 
fer himself for wickedness and reveagefulness. Ill find 
out what's at the bottom of all this cantankerous spite be- 
fore I make you Mrs. G. W". Parmaleo, or I'll know the 
reason why. It's all very fine to have a handsome wiie, 
with big Dlaek eyes and a spunky spirit, but a leUaw 



THE BAEOli^rr's BRIDE. 



163 



»> 



doMn't want a wife that will bury the carving-kuife in 
him the fli-ot time he contrailicts her." 

Sybilla was a good walker; ;he last yellow lino of the 
r/ater, February sariset had hardly faded as she tripped up 
the lor-g drive under the gaunt, tossing trees. Mr. Ed- 
wards still lounged in elegant leisure in the hall, convers- 
ing with a gigantic young footman, and his fishy eyes 
kindled for the second time as Sybilla appeared, ilushed 
and bright and s{)iirkling, after her windy, twilight walk. 

" I have outstiip|)ed the storm after all, ycu see," sho 
remarked, with a gay little laugh, as she went by. "I 
don't believe we shall have it before midnight. Oh, Clau- 
dine! is my lady in her room? I have been on an errand 
for her down the village." 

She had encountered the jaunty little Fi*ench girl on the 
upper landing, and paused to put the question. 

'* Yes," Claudint- sjiid. '* Madame's headache was 
easier. She is nading in her dressing-room." 

Sybilla tapj)ed at the dressing-room door, then turned 
the hancUe and entereil. It was an exquisite little bijou 
of a chamber, with fluted walls of rose silk, and delicious 
plump beautifi! willi bare shoulders and melting eyes, by 
Greuze. A wi;ck1 tire nickered on the marble hearth, and 
was Hashed bat.k fn.ni lofty mirrors as fcall as the room. 

This llickeriiig blaze, and the ghostly twilight creeping 
grayly in between the roi?y silken curtains, left the room 
in a fantastic mixture of light and shadow. 

Lying back in an arm-chair, her book fallen aimlessly 
on her lap, her dark, deep eyes looking straight before her 
into the evening gloaming. My lady sat alone. 

The melancholy wash of the waves on the shore, the 
mournful sighing of the evening wind among the groan- 
ing trees, the monotonous ticking of a dainty buld clock, 
and the light fall of the cinders sounded abnormally loud 
in the deail silence of the apartment 

Lady Kingsland turned round at the opening of the 
door, and her face hardened into that fixedly cold, proud 
look it ai\fays wore at sight of her husbard's brilliant 
protegee. 

In her trailing blaci robes Miss Silver stood before hir 
in the mysterious half-light like some tall, dark ghost. 

*'I have been to the village, my lady," Sybilla said. 



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baronet's bride. 



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l! 1= 



"I liavo seen Mr. Pjirrnaloo. He will be in the Beech 
Wiilk [)r<'(.'is<'ly !i(. eight. '' 

iM y iiicly bent hur huail in cold acknowledgment. Sybilla 
|)tiiKsi.!il ail iiidiatit, detorniinod to make her speak. 

" (Juii f be of service to you in any way in this matter, 
iny liiily?'' yiie iuslvod, 

"Yon?" in jiroiid surprise. "Certainly not. I wish 
to be alone. Miss Silvui Bo ,c;cod enou;,di to ij;o." 

8ybilla's little brown fiot clinched itself furiously, onco 
on the lauding outside. 

" 1 can't humble herJ" she tliought. *' I can't make 
her fear me. 1 can't triumph over her, do what I will. 
1 have her secret and 1 hold her in my i)Ower, but she is 
prouder than Lucifer himself, and she would let me stand 
forth and tell all, and if one pleading word would stop me, 
she would not say it. ' The brave may die, but can not 
yield I' She should have been a man." 

She went to the window and drew out her watch; it 
wanted a quarter of eight. The pretty little enameled 
trinket had been a recent gift of the princely young bar- 
onet — her initials glittered on the case — but, preparing to 
stab him to the heart, she looked at it without one com- 
punctious twinge. 

" In fifteen minutes my lady goes; in fifteen more 1 
shall follow her, and not alone. 1 am afraid Sir Ever- 
ard's slumbors will be rather disturbed to-night." 

The last yellow gleam of the dying day Wiis gone, and a 
sickly, pallid moon glimmered dully among drifts of Hciid- 
ding black clouds. An icy blast wailed up from the sea, 
and the roeknig trees were like dryad specters in writh- 
ing agony. The distant Ikech Walk looked black and 
grim and ghostly in the weird light. 

A great clock high up in a windy turret struck eight. 
A moment after the door of my lady's dressing-room 
opened. A dark, shrouded figure emerged, flitted swiftly 
down the long gallery, dc^n the sweeping stair-way, ani 
vanished. 

Sybilla Silver stood like an efligy in stone, listening with 
a smile on her lips — and her smile was the smile of a 
demon. 

Ten minutes later Edwards, yawning forlornly, still in 
the entrance hall, beheld Miss Silver coming toward him 
with an anxious face, a large shawl thrown over hmr head. 



THE baronet's eride. 



165 



onco 



aud 



" Goir'» out agaiu?" tho valot exclaimed. '* And suoh 
a nasty night, too. You are fond of walking, Miss S., 
and no mistake." 

" I'm not going for a walk," said Sybilla. " 1 am go- 
ing to look for a locket 1 lost this afternoon. I was out in 
tiie park, in the direction of the Beech Walk, and there I 
must have dropped it." 

" Better wait until to-morrow," suggested Edwards. 
*' The wind's 'owling through the trees, and it's colder 
than the Ilarctic regions. Better ivait. " 

*' 1 can not. The locket was a present, and 1 value it 
exceedingly, I thought of asking you to accompany me, 
Mr. Edwards, but as it is so cold perhaps you hjid bettor 
not.'; 

*' Oh, I'll go with pleasure!" said Mr. Edwards. *' If 
you can stand the cold, I can, I dessay. "Wait till 1 get 
my 'at and hovercoat — 1 won't be a minute. " 

Miss {Silver waited. Mr. Edwards reappeared in a 
twinkling. 

*' 'Ad n't I better fetch a lantern?" he suggested. " It 
will be himpossible to see it, heven if it should be there." 

" No," said Sybilla. " The moon is shining, and the 
Jocket will glimmer on the snow. Come!" 

She took his arm, and they started at a brisk pace for 
tiie Beech Walk. Tho ground, baked hard as iron, rang 
under their tread, aud whether it was the bitter blast or 
not, Mr. Edwards could not tell, but his companion's face 
was flushed with a more brilliant glow, in the ghostly 
moonlight, than he had ever before seen there. 

Tiioy reached the long grove of magnificent copper- 
beeches, and just without its entrance Miss Silver began 
8(iarching foi her lost locket. The white snow was baked 
and glittering, but no shining wheel of gold sparkled od 
its radiant surface. 

" It is not here," said Sybilla. *' Let us go further 
down — " 

She paused abruptly at a sudden gesture of her com- 
panion. 

" Uush!' he said. ** There is somo one talking in tho 
Beech Walk." 

Both ))ansed and stood stock still. Borne unmistakably 
m the night wind, voices came to them — the soft voice of 
.h woman, the dtoi/er iou^a of a mau. 



ii 



': I 



i» 






't 



i:'' 



\ 



,'. t 



166 



THE baronet's BRIDE 



" Ono of the maids, I dare say," Sybilla said, eareiess- 
ly, " holding tryst with her lover." 

" No," said the valet; *' not one of the maids wovM set 
foot hinside this walk hafter nightfall for a kingdom! 
They say it's 'aunted. Come forward a little, and lot's 
see if we can't 'ave a look at the talkers. /Vhoevor it is, 
he's hup to no good, I'll be bound!" 

Very softly, stealing on tiptoe, the twain approached the 
entrance of the avenue. The watery moonlight, breaking 
through a rift in the clouds, shono out for an instant 
above the trees, and showed them ii man and a woman, 
standing face to face, earnestly talking. The man stood 
leaning against a tree, his hat pulled over his face; the 
woman stood before him, the dim light full upon her. 
Mr. Edwards barely repressed a cry of consternation. 

" Good Lord!" he gasped; *' it's my lady!" 

" Hush!" cried Sybilla, in a fierce whisper. ** Who is 
the man?" 

As if some inward prescience told him they were there, 
the man lifted his hat at that very instant, and plainly 
showed his face. 

" The Ilamorican, by Jove!" again gasped the horrified 
valet, and then stood staring speechlessly. 

Sybilla Silver's eyes blazed like coals of fire, and the 
demoniac smile, that made her brilliant beauty hideous, 
gleamed on her lips. 

She grasped the man's arm with slender fingers of iron, 
and stood gloating over the scene. 

Not one word could they hear — the distance was too 
great — but they could see my lady's passionate gestures; 
thoy could see the white hands clasp and cover her face; 
they could see her wildly excited, even in that dim light. 
And once they saw her take from her pocket her purse, 
and pour a handful of shining sovereigns into Mr. Parma- 
lee's extended hand. 

There was a speechless gasp from Mr. Edwards at this 
awful revelation — he was too far gone for words. 

They stood there while the moments wont, unheeding 
the icy wind that arose and blew more fiercely each instant 
— unheeding the few fiutterlug snow flakes beginning Uf 
fall. 

Nearly an hour they had stood, jnetrified gazers, when 
t>hey were aroused aa by a thunder- clap. A hone oame 



THB baronet's BBIDB. 



U7 



ot 

i! 



galloping furiously up the avenue, sis only one rider ever 
scalloped there. SybiUa Silver just repressed a scream of 
exultufcion — no more. 

"It is Sir Everard Kingslandl" she cried, in a whisper 
of fiorco delight, *' in time to catch his siok wife in the 
Beoch Walk with the man he hates!" 



ho 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

M Y LADY 'S SECRET. 

It was quite dark before prudent Mr. Parmalee, not" 
witlistanding Sybilla's assurance that the baronet was away 
from home, ventured within the great entrance gates of 
the park. He was not, as he said himself, a coward alto- 
gether; but he had a lively recollection of the pummeling 
he had already received, and a wholesome dread of the 
scientific hitting of this strong-fisted young aristocrat. 
When he did venture, his coat-collar was so pulled up 
that in the sickly moon-rays recognition, even had they 
met, was next to impossible. 

Mr. Parmalee, smoking a cigar, made his way to the 
Beech Walk, and leaning against a giant tree, stared at 
the watery moon, and waited. The loud-voiced turret 
clock struck eight a moment after he had taken his posi- 
tion. 

*' Time is up," thought the photographer. ** My lady 
ought to be here now. I'll give her another quarter. If 
she isn't with mo in that time, then good-bye to Lady 
Kingsland and my keeping her secret." 

Ten minutes passed. As he replaced his watch a light 
step sounded on the frozen snow, a shadow darkened the 
entrance, and Lady Kingsland's pale, proud faoo looked 
fixedly at him in the moonlight. There was a queenliness 
in her manner that impressed even the unimpressionable 
American. He took off his hat and threw away his half- 
smoked cigar. 

*• My Lady Kingsland!" 

She bowed haughtily, hovering aloof. 

" You wished to see me, Mr. Parmalee — that is youi 
name, I believe. What is it you have to say to mo?" 

Her proud tone restored all the artist's constitutional 
phlegm. He put on Im hut, and returned her haughty 
gaze coolly. 






(I. 



«<1 



im 



168 



THE 15AU0NET S BUIDE. 



1 



u 



h 



*' 1 don't think you really need to ask that question^ my 
iauy. You know as well aa 1 do, or Fm mistaken/" 

*' Who are you?'' she demanded, impatiently, impetu- 
ously. " How do you come to know my secret? llow do 
you come to bo possessed of that picture?" 

" I told you before. She gave it to me herself." 

My lady's great gray eyes dilated. She came a stej, 
nearer. 

*' For God's sake, tell me the truth! Don't deceive 
me! Do you really mean it? Have you really seen my — " 

She stopped, shuddering in some horrible inward repul- 
sion from head to foot. 

*' I really have," rejoined Mr. Parmalce. " I know the 
— the party in question like a book. She told me her 
story; she gave me her picture herself, of her own free 
will, and she told mo where to find you. She is in Lon- 
don now, all safe, and waiting — a little out of patience, 
though, by this time, 1 dare say." 

"Waiting!" Lady Kingsland gasped the word in white 
terror. " Waiting for what?" 

" To see you, my lady." 

There was a blank pause. My lady covered her face 
with both hands, and again that convulsive shudder shook 
her from head to fooii. 

" She is very penitent, my lady," Mr. Parmalee said, in 
a softer tone. " She is very poor, and ill and heart- 
broken. Even you, my lady, might pity and forgive her 
if you saw her now. " 

She made a wild, frantic gesture for him to stop, lu 
the moonlight her face was utterly ghastly. 

" For Heaven's sake, hush! 1 don't want to hear. Tell 
me how you met her first. I never heard your name un- 
til that day in the library." 

" Ko more you didn't," said the artist. " You see, my 
lady, it was pure chance-work from first to last. I was 
coming over hero on a little speculation of my own in tho 
photographic line, and, being low in pocket and j)retty 
well used to rough it, 1 was tiomi ng in the steerage. 1'hero 
was a pretty hard crowd of us — Dutch and Irish and all 
sorts mixed up there — an' among 'em one that looked as 
much out of her element us a fish out of water. Any one 
could tell with half an eye she'd been a lady, in spite of 
her shabby duds and starved, haggard face. She was 



THE BARONKT'S HRir>E. 



1C9 



lu 






alone. Not a aoul knew her, not a soul cared for her, and 
ialf-way across she fell sick and had like to died." 

Mr. Parmalee paused. My lady stood before him, 
ashen white to the lips, listening with wild, wide eyes. 

" Go on," she said, almost in a whisper. 

" Well, my lady,-" Mr. I'arnuilee resumed, modestly, 
** I'm a pretty rough sort of a fellow, as you may see, anu 
I hain't never experienced religion or that, and don't lay 
claim to no sort of goodness; but for all that I've s\n old 
mother over to home, and for her sake i ooukln^t stand by 
and see a poor, sufferin' feller-critter of the female jxh-- 
suasion and not lend a heliting hand. I nussed that there? 
sick ])arfcy by night iv,\d by (lay, and if it hadn't been for 
that nussin'and the little things 1 bought her to eat, she'd 
have been under the A 1 tan tic now, though I do say it. 
They used to laugh at me on board, but I stuck to her, 
sir, until she got well." 

My lady held out her hand — her slender white hand 
aglitter with rich rings. 

" You are a better man than 1 took you for," she said, 
softly. *' I thank you with all my heart." 

Mr. Parmalee took the dainty hand, rather confusedly, 
in his tinger-tipa, held it a seciond, and dropped it. 

" It was one night, when she thought herself dying, 
that she told me her story — toid me everything, my lady 
— who she had been, who she was, and what she was com- 
ing across for. My lady, nobody could be sorrier than she 
was then. I pitied her, by George, more than 1 ever pitied 
any one before in my life. She had been unhappy and re- 
morseful for a long time, but she was in despiiir. It was 
too late for repentance, she thought. There was nothing 
for it but to go on to the dreadful end. Sometimes, when 
dhe was almost mad, she — well, she took to drink, you 
know^ and he wasn't in any way a good or kind protector 
to her — Thorndyke wasn't." 

My lady Hung up both arms with a shrill, irre])ressiblo 
scream. 

" Kot that name," she cried—" not that accursed name, 
if you would not drive me mad!" 

"I bog your pardon!" said Mr. Parmnlee; " I won't. 
Well, she heard of your father's death — Jte told Iku-, you 
see — and that completed her despair. She took to drink 
worse and worse; she got out of ail bounds — sort of fran- 



i 'i 



( ; 



L 

: 



{ 






170 THE baronet's BRIDE. 

tm, jon so. Twice sho cried to kill horsolf — ooee by 
poison,^ ;e by drowning; and both times he — you know 
who I mo-^ —caught her and stopped her. He badn^t 
even mercy ou ugh on her, sho says, to let her die!" 

*' For God's sake, don't tell me of those horrors!" my 
lady cried. In a voice of agony. *' I feel as though I were 
going mad." 

*' It is hard," said the artist, compassionately; " but I 
can't help it — it's true, all the same. Sho heard of your 
marriage to Sir Everard Kingsland next. It was the last 
thing he ever taunted her with; for, crazed with his jeers 
and insults, she fled from him that night, sold all she pos- 
sessed but the clothes on her back, and took passage for 
England." 

" To see me! " asked Harriet, hoarsely. 

*' To see you, my lady, but all unkmwn. She had no 
wish to force herself upon you; she only felt that she was 
dying, and that if she could look on your face once before 
she went out of life, and see you well, and beautiful, and 
beloved, and happy, she could lie down in the dust at your 
gates and die content." 

There was a rude pathos in the speaker's voice that 
showed even he was touched. My lady hid her face once 
more, and the tears fell like rain. 

*' She made me write you a line or two that night," 
continued Mr. Parmalee — " that night which she thought 
her last — and she begged me to find you and give it to you, 
with her picture. I have it yet; here they are, both." 

Ho drew from his pocket the picture and a note, and 
gave them into my lady's hand. 

** She didn't die," ho resumed; ** she got better, «md I 
took lior to London, loft her there, and came down here. 
Now, my hidy, I don't make no pretense of being better 
than I am; 1 took this matter up in the way of specula- 
tion, in the view to make money out of it, and nothing 
else. 1 said to myself: * Here's this young lady, the bride 
of a rich baronet; it ain't likely she's been and told him all 
this, and it ain't likely her pa has died and loft her ignorant 
of it. Now, what't to hinder my making a few honest 
pounds out of it, at the samu time I do a good turn for 
this poor, snfferin', sinful critter here?' That's wkat 1 
said, my lady, and that's what I am here for. I'm » jjocr 
man, and I live by my wits, aoA a stroke of bosinecwlB n 



by 

low 
[n't 

jmy 

rero 

it I 

lour 
last 
iexB 
)oa- 
for 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



171 



stroke of businesn, no matter how far it'a out of tho ordi- 
nary run. Your husband don't know this here story; you 
don't want him to know it, and you come down hand- 
somely and ril keep your secret'* 

*' You have rather spoiled your iP"rketablo commodity, 
then, Mr. Parmalee. It would ha p i you better not 
to have shared your secret with Sy'ilka ver." 

** She's told you, has she?" e^i^ th*. ^.rtist, rather sur- 
prised. " Now that's what I ce' .le "3. You don't think 
she'll peach to Sir Everard, do j'cu. '" 

" 1 think it extremely like! *hat she will. She hates 
me, Mr. Parmalee, and Miss fc n' would do a good deal 
for a person she hates. You should have waited until she 
became Mrs. Parmalee before making her the repository 
of your valuable secrets." 

" It's no good talking about it now, however," said Mr. 
Parmalee, rather doggedly. ** I've told her, and it can't 
be helped. And now, my lady, I don't want to be caught 
here, and it's getting late, and what are you going to give 
a fellow for all his trouble?" 

" What will hardly repay you, I fear," said my lady, 
with cool contempt; " for I have very little of my own, as 
you doubtless have informed yourself ere this?. What 1 
have you have earned and shall receive. At the most it 
will not exceed three hundred i)0und8. Of my husband's 
money not one farthing shall any one ever receive from 
me for keeping a secret of mine." 

Mr. Parmalee's face fell visibly. Three hundred pounds 
was evidently not one fourth of what he had expected to 
receive for his valuable secret. 

" I must have more than that," ho said, resolutely. 

Three hundred pounds is nothing to a lady like you. 
have diamonds and jewels worth five times tho 
t amount. I must have more than tiireu hundred pounds." 

'* It is all I have — all 1 can give you, and to give you 
that I must sell the trinkets my dear dead father gave me. 
But it is for his sake I do it— to preserve his secret. My 
jewels, my diamonds, my husband's gifts 1 will not touch, 
nor one farthing of liis money will you over receive. You 
entirely mistake me, Mr. Parmalee. My secret I will 
keep from him while I can ; 1 8Wf)re a solemn oatli by my 
father's death-bed to do so. But t< pay you with his 



4( 



i You 



: 



: !■ 



172 



THE baronet's BRTDT?. 



i 



money — to bribe yon to docoivo him with liis gold — T nerer 
will. I would die first.*' 

She stood before him erect, defiant, queenly. 

Mr. Parmalee frowned darkly. 

*• Suppose 1 go to liim then, my lady — suppose I pour 
this nice little story into his ear — what then? 

" Then,*' she exclaimed, in tones of ringing scorn, ** you 
will receive nothing. His servants will thrust you from 
his gates. No, Mr. Parmalee, if money be your object 
you will make a better bargain with me than with him. 
What is mine you shall have — every farthing I own, every 
trinket I possess — on condition that you dejiart and never 
trouble me more. That is all I can do — all I will do. 
Decide which you prefer. " 

" There is no choice," replied the American, sullenly; 
" half a loaf is better than nothing. I'll take the three 
hundred pounds; but it's a poorer spec than I took it for. 
And now, my lady, what do you mean to do about her? 
She wants to see you." 

'* See me!" An expression of horror, fear, disgust 
swept over my lady's face. *' Not for ten thousand 
worlds!" 

*' Well, now, 1 call that hard," said Mr. Parmalee. ** I 
don't care what she's done or what she's been, it's hard! 
She's sorry now, and no one can be more than that. I 
take an interest in that unfortunate party, my lady; and 
if you knew how she hankers after a sight of you — how 

Eoor and ill and heart-broken she is — how she longs to 
ear you say once, ' I forgive you,' before she dies — well, 
you wouldn't, proud as vou are— you wouldn't be so 
hard." 

*• Stop — stop!" Lady Kingsland exclaimed, in a chok- 
ing voice. 

She turned away, leaning against a tree, her hands 
pressed over her heart, her face more ghastly than the face 
of a dead woman. 

Mr. Parmalee watched her. He could see the fierce 
struggle that shook her from head to foot. 

*' JJon'fc bo hard on her!" ho pleaded. " She's very 
humble now, and fallen very low. She won't live long, 
lud y^nu'lJ be hajipier on your own death-bed, my lady, for 
orgiviug her, poor soul!'' 



THE BAUONET's UUIDE. 



173 



Sho put out hor hand blindly and took liis. Tier touch 
was icy cold, hor fuco ghastly. 

** I will 8oe hor," sno said, iioarsuly. *' May (I ml for- 
give hor and pity mo! Fetch her down hero, Mr. I'arma- 
lee, and I will soo her." 

*' Yes, my lady; but as I'm rather short of funds, per- 
haps — " 

She drew out her purse and poured its glittering con- 
tents into his palm. 

*' It is all I have now; when you return I will have tho 
three hundred pounds. You must take hor back to New 
York. Sho and I must never meet again — for my hus- 
band's sake." 

" I understand, my lady," tho man said, moved by tho 
agony of hor voice. " I'll do what 1 can. I'll take her 
back, and I'll trouble you no more." 

His last words were drowned in the gallop of Sir Gala- 
had up the avenue. 

*' It is my husband!" my lady exclaimed. "1 must 
leave you. When will you—ana sho — return?" 

*' In t';vo days wo will be here. I'll give out she's a sis- 
ter of mine at the inn — no one knows her here — and I'll 

Until then, my 



send you word and arrange a 
lady, 1 wish you good-bye. 



meeting. 



Mr. I'armaleo drew down his hat and strode uncere- 
moniously away. Weak, trembling, my lady leaned for a 
few moments against a tree, trying to recover herself, 
then turned slowly and walked back to the house to meet 
her husband. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

MISS SILVER IJllEAKS THE NEWS. 

The Grange, tho jointure house of the Dowager Lady 
Kingsland, stood, like all such places, isolated and alone, 
at tho furthest extremity of tho village. It was a dreary 
old building enough, weather-beaten and brown, \ th 
primly laid-out grounds, and row upon row of stiff poplars 
waving in tho wintery wind. A lonely, forlorn old i)Iaco — 
a vivid contrast to tho beauty and brightness of Kingsland 
Court; and from the first day of hur«ntrance, LadyKings- 
la?id, senior, hated her daughter-in-law with double hatred 
and rancor. 



^'1 
I 

I 



I 



■ I 

1 



i I 



il 



174 



THE BAUONKT'S BBIDE. 



" For the pnuper half- pay ofTicor's bold-faced daiiuhtor 
wo laiKst dm;^' out our livuB in this liorriblo plaoo!' ghe 
burst out, bitterly. " Whilo Harriot llunstlen roigns eu 
prinrcssc amid the splondora of our anccBtral home, wo 
ninst vcgotato in this uuubling, dingy old barn. I'll novor 
forgive your brother, Mildred— I'll never forgive him as 
Jong as I live for marrying that (feature!'* 

*' Dear mamma," the gentle voice of Milly pleadeii, 
** you must not blamo Kvorard. He loves lior, and she is 
as beautiful as an angol. It would have been all the same 
if he had married Lady Louise, you know. We would still 
have had to quit Kingsland Court." 

*' Kin^sland Court would have had an earl's daughter 
for its mistress in that case. I could have loft it without 
repining, then. But to think that this odious, fox-hunt- 
ing, steeple-chaso-riding, baggago-cart-following JJflc du 
rotjiment should rule there, whdc we — Oh, it sets mo 
wild only to think of it!*' 

" Don't think of it, then, mamma," coaxed Mildred. 
*' We will make this wilderness * blossom as the rose ' next 
summer. As for Harrie, you don't know her yet — you 
will like her bettor when you do!" 

*' I shall never like her!" Lady Kingsland replied, with 
rancorous bitterness. " I don't want to like her! She is 
a proud, imperious upstart, and 1 sincerely hope she may 
make Everard see his headstrong folly in throwing himself 
away before the honey-moon is ended." 

It was quite useless for Mildred to try to combat her 
mother's tierce resentment. J)ay after day she wandered 
through the desolate, draughty rooms, bewailing her hard 
lot, regretting the lost glories of Kingsland, and nursing 
her resentment toward her odious daughter-in-law; and 
when the bridal pair returned, and Milly timidly suggested 
the propriety of calling, my lady flatly refused. 

"I never will!" she said, spitefully. ** I'll never call 
on Captain Hunsden's daughter, let people say what they 
please. I never countenanced the match before he made 
it. I shall not countenance it now when she has usurped 
my place. She should never have been received in society 
— a person whose mother was no better than she ought 
to be. " 

*' But, mamma — " 
Hold your tonguO| Milly I You always were a llttio 



(( 



THE BARONKT'S imiDE. 



175 



m 
wo 
for 

U8 



iiu 



Aioll 1 tell you I will not cull on my son's wife, and no 
inoro sliall you. Let her oomo hero. It will liiimblo iier 
prido a little, perha])s, and his, too. They both nteil it," 

My lady adherotl to her resolution with iron force, and 
received ncr Hon, when the day after his roturn ho rode 
over, with freezing formality. Ihit with all that, slie was 
none the Icea deo])Iy disploasod when ho called ami canio to 
dinner and left his brido at homo. 

*• My humble house is not worthy my lady's imiiorial 
presence, 1 dare say,*' she romarkod, with IJaHhiiij^- eyes. 
** After the magnificenco of barraok life and tho splondor 
of llunsdon Hall, 1 scarcely wondor eho (;an not hloo]) to 
your mother's jointure house. A lady in her position must 
draw the lino somewhere. '* 

" You are unjust, mother," her son said, striving to 
speak calmly. " You always were unjust to Harriot. If 
you will 2)ermit us, we will both do ourselves tho pleasure 
of dining with you to-morrow." 

My lady bowed ironically. 

*' It shall be precisely as the Prince and Princess of 
Kingsland please. My poor board will bo only too much 
honored. " 

Sir Everard's face Hushed angrily, but ho forebore to re- 
tort. 

** It is natural, I sup])ose," he thought, riding home- 
ward. ** The contrast between Kingsland Court and Tho 
Grange is striking. She is jealous and angry and hurt — 
poor motherl Harrie must come with mo to-morrow, and 
try to please her." 

But when to-morrow came Harrio had a headache, and 
the baronet was obliged to go alone. 

There was an ominous light in his K.-olhcr^j eyes, a 
warning compression of tho mouth, and « look of trot«!)led 
I mquiry in Mildred's face that told hm a revolaticii vas 
coining. 

His mother's powerful eyes transfixed him the iustunt ho 
i^ppeared. 

I thought your wife was coming?" was her lirst re- 
mark. 

*' Harriet had a shocking bad headaclie. She lias been 
ill fkll day," he replied, hastily. " It was rjuito impossiblu 
lor her to leave her room. She regrets — " 

That will do, ^verai-dl" His mother rose a3 she 



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THE baronet's BRIDE. 



spoke, with a short laugh. " 1 understantl it all. Don't 
troiiblo yourself to explain. Let us go to the dining-rooii? 
— (liruior waits." 

" iUit, my dear mother, it is really as I say. Harrie is 
III." 

Slio looked at him with a glance of infinite scorn and 
con 1 0111 pt. 

" 711? Yes, ill of a guilty conscience, perhaps! Such a 
moUior — such a daughtor! I always knew how this mad 
/y/r.s7////Yr//r6' would end. 1 don't know that I am surprisetl. 
1 don't know that I regret it. I am only sorry that my 
son's wife should be the first to disgrace the name of 
Kingshind!" 

Sir Everard started as ii an adder had stung him, turn- 
ing dark red. 

" Disgrace? Take care, mother! That is an ugly 
word." 

"It is. But, however uglj, it is always best to call 
these things by their right names." 

" These things! What under heaven doj'ou you moan?" 
" Do you really need to ask?" she said, with cold con- 
tempt. " Are you indrjd so blind and besotted where 
this woman is concerned? Wliy, my son's wife is the talk 
of the town, and my son sits hero and asflis mo what 1 
moan?" 

The red finsh of anger faded from the young husband's 
face, and gave place to the ghastly hue of ashes. 

"Mi.mni;'! mamma!" Mildred said, imploringly. 
** Pray don't! You are cruel! Don't say such dreadful 
things!" 

Her brother turned to her, hi.^ face white, bis lips trem- 
bling with suppressed rage and wounded feeling. 

" Your mother is cruel, and unjust, and unnatural!" 
he said, in a hard, hoarse voice. *' Do you tell me what 
slie means, Mildred." 

'* Don't ask me, Everard!" Mildred said, in distress. 
" We have heard cruel, wicked stories — false, I know — 
about llarrie and — and a stranger — an American gentle- 
man — who is stopping at the Dlue Bell Inn." 

" Yes, Everard," his mother said, jiity for liim, hatred 
of his wife, strangely mingled in look and tone, " your 
bride of a month is the talk of tlio place. The names of 



THE UAKONET'S BlilDE. 



177 



Laily Kingslaiul and tliis unknown mun go wliisperud to- 
getlier from ]i]» to lip." 

" Wh;it ilo they say?" 

Ho aske»l the r^uestion in a hard, nnnatural voice, the 
deathly pallor of his face unchanging. 

*' Notliing!" Mildred exclaimed, indignantly — ** noth- 
ing but their own base suspicions! She nearly fainted at 
tiriic sight of him. He showred her a picture, aiid she ran 
out of the room and fell into hysterics. Since then he has 
written to her, and mysterious personages — females in dis- 
g!iise — visit him at the Blue liell. That is what they whis|)er, 
Evurard: nothing more." 

" Nothing more!** echoed her mother. ** Qi:ite enough, 
1 think. What would you have. Miss Kingsland? Evor- 
ard, who is this mauj''* 

He looked at her, with a strident laugh. 

*' You appear to know more than I do, mother. He is 
an American — a traveling photograph artist — and my wife 
never laid eyes on him until she saw him, the day after our 
arrival, in the librar}'. As to the fainting: and the hyster- 
ics, I chanced to be in the library all through that tirst in- 
terview, and I saw neither one nor the other. I am sorry 
to spoil the i>retty romance in which you take such evi- 
dent delight, my gootl, kind, charitable mother; but truth 
obliges me to tell you it is a fabrication from beginning to 
end. And now, if you will be good enough to tell me tlio 
name of the originator of this report, you will confer upon 
mo the liist favor I shall ever ask of you. My wife's honor 
is mine; and neither she nor 1 will ever set foot in a house 
whei-e such stories are credited — not only credited, but ex- 
ulted in. Tell me the name of your tale-maker. Lady 
Kingsland, and jK^rmit me to wish you goml-evening. " 

" Evenird!'* his sister cried, in agony. 

lint he cut Iier short with an inii)atient wave of his hand. 

*' Hush, Mi!dn>i; let my mother s{)eak. " 

"1 have nothing to say." She stood haughiil before 
him, and they looktx] eacli other full in the face, mother 
anil son. *' My tale-maker is the whole town. You can 
not punish them all. Sir Everard. There is truth in this 
story, or it never would have originated; and he has w it- 
ten to her — that is beyond a doubt. He has told it him- 
self, and shown her reply.'* 

** It is as false as hell!" His eyes blazed like coals of 



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THE BARONET'S BRIDE. 



fire> " My wife is ae pure as the angels, and any one who 
(hvres doubt that parity, even though it be the mother who 
boro me, ig my enemy to the death!" 

lie dashed out of the room, out of the house, mounted 
Sir Gahdiad, and rode away as if Satan and his hosts were 
after him. 

" Mamma! mamma!" Mildi-ed cried, in unutterable re- 
proach, '* what have you done?" 

*"l'old him the truth, child." Her face was deathly 

Eale, her hands and lips trembling convulsively. " It ia 
etter he should know it, although that kuowleilgo parts 
us forever.** 

Like a man gone mad the young baronet galloped homo. 
The sickly glimmer of the fitful moon shone on a face that 
would never be more ghastly in his cotiin — on strained eyes 
and com})ressed lips. It seemed to him but an instant 
from the time he quitted The (J range until he dashed up 
the avenue at Kiiigsland, leaped ot! his foaming bay, and 
strode into the house. Straight to his wife's room he 
went, tierce, invincible determination in every line of his 
rigid face. 

** She shall tell mo ail — she shall, by Heaven!" he cried, 
between hit- clinched teeth. 

lie entered her dressing-room — she was not there; her 
boudoir — she was not there; her bedroom — it too was 
om})ty. He seized the bell and nearly tore it down. 
Oluuilino, the maid, looked in with a startled face. 

*' Whore is your mistress?" 

The girl gazed round with a bewildered air. 

'* is my lady not here, sir? She sent me away over an 
hour ago. She was lying down in her dressing-room; she 
said she was ill. " 

He looked at her for a moment — it was evident she was 
telling the simple truth. 

" Send Miss Silver hero." 

*' I am not sure that Miss Silver is in the house. Sir 
Kverard. I saw her go out with Edwards some time ago 
but 1 will go and see." 

Claudine departed. Five minutes passed — ton; he stood 
rigid as stone. ^JMien came steps — hurried, agitated — the 
footsteps of a man and a woman. 

He strode out and confronted them — Edwards, his valet, 



THE baronet's I5RIDH. 



179 



re- 



am! iSybilla Silver. Both were dressed as from a reoent 
walk; both wore strangely pale and agitated faces. 

Etlwaitls barely repressed a cry at sight of his mastor, 
with that fixed, awful face. 

" What is it?" Sir Everard asked. 

A dull presentiment of some horrible calamity had taken 
possession of him, body and soul. 

The valet looked at tSybillu in blank terror. Miss Silver 
covered her face with both hands and turned away. 

" What is it?" the baronet repeated, in a dull, thick 
voice. *' AVhere is my wife?" 

*' Sir Everard, I — I don't know how- 
in the house. " 

'* Where is she?" 

** She is- 

** Where?" 

"In the Beech Walk." 



-she — she is not 



-in the grounds.*' 



ti 



With whom! 



He knew befoi*e he put the question. He had left her 
ill — unable to quit her chamber, as she siiid — and this was 
how he found tier, oomiug home sooner thau was antici- 
pated. 

*' With whom?" 

"With Mr. Parmaloe." 

There was a dead pause. Sybilla clasped Ler hands and 
looked imploringly up in his face. 

"Don't be angry with us, Sir Everard; we could not 
help seeing them. I lost a locket, and Edwards came to 
help me look for it. It was by the merest chance we o«mo 
upon them in the Beech Walk." 

" I am not angry," still in that dull, thick voioe. 
*' Bid they see you?" 

"No, Sir Everai-d." 

" Did you hear what they said?" 

"No, Sir Everard; we would not have listened. They 
were talking; my lady seemed dreadfully agitated, apiKjal- 
ing to him, as it api)eared, while ho was cool and indiiler- 
ent. Just before we came away we saw her give him all 
the money in her purse. Ah! here she is now! For pity's 
sftke, do not betray us, Sir Everard!" 

She llitted away like a swift, noii^uloss ghost, closely fol- 
lowed by the valet. And tin instant later Lady Kingsland, 
wild and pale, and shroutJed iu a long mautie. turned to 



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180 



THE JJAKONKT'8 BKIDE. 



enter herdreasing-room, auil found hericlf face to face with 
her wronged husband. 



m 'I 



CnAPTEU XXV. 

THE BREAKING OF THE KTOKM. 

She looked at him and recoiled with a cry of dismay. 
lie stooil before her so ghastly, so awful, that with a blind, 
unthinking motion of intense terror she 2)ut out both 
hands as if to keep him off. 

"You have reason to fear me!" he said, in a hoarse, 
unnatural voice. " Wives have been murdered for less 
than this!'' 

Sybilla and Edwards heard the ominous words, and 
looketl blankly in each other's faces. I'hoy liuard no more. 
The baronet caught his wife's wrist in a grasp of iron, 
drew her into the dressing-room, and closed tlie door, lie 
stood with his back to it, gazing at her, his blue eyes filled 
with lurid rage. 

" Where have you been?" 

lie asked the question in a voice more terrible from its 
menacing calm than any wild outburst of fury. 

llis wife's eyes met his, full and clear and i)ioud. She 
was deathly ])a]e; but she came of a haughty and fearless 
race, and in this hour of her extremity she did not blench. 

" in the Beech Walk," she answered, i)romi)tly. 

*' With whom!'"' 

"With Mr. rarmaloo." 

ller glance never fell. She looked at him proudly, un- 
quailingly, full in the face. The look in hi.) lluming eyes, 
the tone of his ominous voice, wore bitterly insulting, and 
with insult her imi)erious s])irit rose. 

" And you dare stand before me — you dare look mo in 
the face," he said, between his clinched teeth, " and tell 
mo this?" 

" I dare!" she said, proudly. " Vou hiive yet to learn 
what J dare do. Sir Everard Kingsljiudl" 

Sb' drew herself up in her bi;;iiily and her p'-ide, v,vv.v,t 
and defiant. Her long liuir fell louse and uii'jound, licr 
.fai;c was colorless as jiuirble; but her dark eyes were llasli- 
jng with anger and woundnl pridi,!, jiiid at licr brightest 
she had never looked mon^ beautirul than sh«! did now. 
In spitu of himself he soileuod a little at the sight. 






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THE BAKONET'S bride. 



181 



arse, 
lusu 



** So beautiful and so lost!" ho said, bitterly. ** So ut- 
terly deceitful and depraved! Surely what they tell of her 
mother must be true. The taint of dishonor is in the 
blood!" 

The change was instantaneous. The pallor of her face 
turned to a burning red. She clasped her hands with a 
sudden spasm over her heart. 

" My mother!" she gasped. " What do you say of 
her?" 

'* What they say of you — that she was a false and wicked 
wife. Deny it if you can. " 

Again that change. The crimson flush died out, and 
left her white, and rigid, and cold, with eyes that literally 
blazed. 

'* No," she said, with an imperial gesture of scorn, " 1 
deny nothing. If my IiuhI tind can believe such a vile 
slander of his wife of a month, let it be. 1 scorn to deny 
what he credits so easily." 

Sir Everard broke into a bitter laugh. 

*' I am afraid it would tax oven your invention, my lady, 
to deny these vt3ry plain facts. I leave you in your room, 
too ill to leave it, too ill by far to ride with me to my 
mother's, but not too ill to get up and meet your lo\ ta- — 
shall I say it, madanie? — clandestinely in the lieoch ^Vuifc 
as soon as 1 am gone! You should bo a little moie care- 
ful, madanui, and make sure bcf« you hold tho.'o coiili- 
dential icfc-a-fr/ci^, that the servji . are not listening ind 
looking on. Lady Kingshwid ai Mr. Parnuilee are tlie 
talk of the county already. To Tight's meeting will be a 
last honiic bouche added to the s) y dish of scandal." 

*' Have you done?" she said. iter than ashes. '* Have 
you any more insults to olTer? 

*' Insults!" the baronet rei»ejitcd, hoarse with passloti. 
" You do well, madame, to talk of insults — lost, fallen 
creature that you are! You liaA ti dishonored an honorable 
name; betrayed a husband who loved and trusted you with 
all his heart; blighted and ruined his life; covered him 
with disgrace! And you sUuul there and talk of insult! I 
have loved you as man never lo- 1 wonuui before, but (Joti 
help you, Harriet Kingsland, ii i had a jMstol now!" 

She fell down on her knee.s before him, and held u]) her 
clasped hands. 

" Kill me!" sho cried. " I am licrc at your feet- have 



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THE BAROKET'a BRIDE. 



Dioroy and stab nic to tho heart, l>ut do not drive me mad 
witli your Jiorriblo roproaohoa! May (Jod forgive mo if I 
liiivo brought dishonor ii})on yon, for 1 never meant it! 
Never — never — so help nio Heaven!" 

" liiBC, madanio!" J lis voiee hhook with his inward 
agony. " Kneel to Him who will judge you for your baso- 
nosa; it is too late to kneel to me! Oh, great CJod!" — ho 
turneil away and covered his fac«» with his Ijands — " to 
think how I liave loved this woman, and how bitterly sho 
has deceived me!'* 

The unutterable agony of his tone — that wild, fierce cry 
of anguish — to her dying day ITarriet Kingsland might 
never forget it. Jlia words burst from him, every one bit- 
ter, as if tinged with his Jieart's blood. 

" I loved her and T trusted her! I would have died 
to saye lier one hour of pain, and this is my reward! Dis- 
honored — disgraced — my life blighted — my liearfc broken 
— dticoived from Ih'st to last!" 

" No, no, no!" sho shrieked aloud, and ehmg to his 
knees. " I swear it to you, Everard! I am guiltless! By 
all my liopos of heaven., I am your true, your faithful, your 
loving wife!" 

ile turned and looked up at i or in white amaze. 
Truth, that no living being could doubt, was stamped in 
agony ()n that upturned, beautiful face. lie looked at hor 
in mute anguish words can never paint, for he loved her — 
ho loved her with a su})reme love. 

"Hear mo, Everard !** sho cried — "my own beloved 
husband! I met this man to-night because he holds a se- 
cret I am sworn to keep, and that places me in his power. 
But, by all that is high and holy, I have told you the aim- 
ido truth about him! I never saw him in all my life until 
1 saw him that day in tho library. I have never set 
\ eyes on him since, except for an hour to-night. Oh, be- 
lieve me, Everard, or I shall die hero at your feet!'* 

" And you never wrote to him?" he asked. 

" Never — never!" 

" Nor ho to you?" 

" Once— the scrawl you saw Syljdla Silver fetch me. I 
never wrote — I never sent him even a message." 

*' No?" His powerful eyes transfixed her. '* How, 
then, came you two to moot to-night?" 

** Ho wished to see me — to extort money from me for 



THE IJAUONKTS UKIDK. 



183 



tbo koopiiig; of this Hccrot — ami liu sent word by Hjfbillu 
SiiVMi'. My au.ssv'cr was, ' I will b(! in Llie ikjoiib Walk at 
oiiflit to-ni^bt. If bo wiubud to seu nic let bini come to 
mu thoro.' " 

" 'i'bon you own to bavo doliberatoly doceivod me? Tbo 
proterulud beadacbe was — a lie?" 

"No; it was true.*' JSbo j)ut boi band distractedly to 
ber tbrobbing forebead. " Itacbes still, until 1 am almost 
blind witb tbe pain. Ob, Evorard^ be merciful! Have a lit- 
tle j)ity for me, for I love you, and I am tbe most wretcbed 
creature alive I*' 

Ho drew back from ber outstretcbed armswitb a gesture 
of liorce repulsion. 

'* You sbowyour love in a singular way, my Lady Kings- 
land. It is not by keeping guilty secrets from your bus- 
band — by meeting otber men by nigbt and by stealtb in tbo 
grounds — that you are to cc \ce me of your love. Tell 
mo wbat tbis mystery means. J command you, by your 
wifely obedience, tell me tbis secret at onoe!*' 

" r can not!" 

" You mean you will not. " 

"I can not." 

Ilia blue eyes gleamed, but be restrained bimself. 

*' It is a secret of guilt and of sbame? Tell me tbe 
trutb?'' 

" It is; but tbe guilt is not mine. Tbe sbame — tbe bit- 
ter sbame — and tbe burning expiation, (rod help me, are!" 

" Anil you refuse to tell me?" 

" Everard, I bave sworn!" sbe cried out, wildly. 
" Woulil you bave mo break a deatb-bed oatb?" 

" 1 would bave ycu break ten tbousund sucb oatbs," be 
exclaimed, passionately, " wben tboy stand between you 
and your busbaud! llarriet llunsden, your dead fatber 
was a villain!" 

ISbe sprung to ber feet — sbe btul been kneeling all tbis 
time — and confronted bim like a Saxon pytboness. lier 
great gray eyes actually llasbed lire. 

" (Jo!'' sbe cried. " Jjeave me this instant! Wore you 
ten times my busbaiid, you should never insult the mem- 
ory of tbe best, tbe noblest, tbo most devoted of fathers! 
I will never forgive you the words you bave spokau until 
my dying day!" 

'* You forgive!" Uo r«turted, witb sueeriug scorn, »tuug 



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184 



THE IJAliONKTS IIKIDE. 



out of all gonorosity. " Forgiveness is no word for such 
li]>s us yours, Lady Kingslamll Keep your guilty seorot, 
or your fatiior's or your mother's, whosoever it may be; 
but not as my wife! ^'o, miidame! when the world begins 
to point the Hngor of scorn, through her own evil-doing, at 
the woman I have married, then from that hour she is no 
longer my wife. The woman who meets by night, ami by 
stealth, the sharer of her hidden secrets, is no longer 
worthy to bear an honorable name. Tlie law of divorce 
shall free you and your secrets together; but until Liiat 
freedom comes, I command you — do you hear, mistress? — 
1 command you to meet this man no more! On your })eril 
you write to him, or speaic to him, or meet him again. If 
you do, by the living Jjord, 1 will murder you botTi!" 

He dashed out of the room lilie a num gone mad, leav- 
ing her standing petrified in the middle of the iloor. 

One instant she stood, tlio room lieaving, the walls rock- 
ing around her; then, with a low, moaning <'ry, siio tot- 
tered blindly forward and fell like a stone to the iloor. 

The storm burst at midnight. A gale surged through 
the trees with a noise like thunder; the rain fell in tor- 
rents. And while rain and wind beat tempestuously over 
the earth and the roaring sea, the husband paced up and 
down the library, with clinched teeth and hicked hands 
and death-like face — for the time utterly mad — and the 
wife lay alone in her luxur'HTit room, deaf and blind to 
the tempest, in a deep swoon. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

"the PEItSON IN LONDON." 



The February day was closing in London in a thick, 
clammy, yellow fog. No keen frost, no sparkling stars 
brightened the chill spring twilight; the sky, where it 
could be seen, was of a uniform leaden tint, the damp 
mist wet you to the bone, and a long, lamentable blast 
whistled around the corners and jjierced chillingly through 
the thickest wraps — a bleak and ghostly gloaming — and 
passengers strode through the greasy black muil with surly 
faces and ittoned-up great-coats and the inevitable Lon- 
don umb fu 

At the dow of a dull and dirty little lodging u wom- 



THE BARONKT'S IMUOE. 



185 



an sat, in tliis durk j^Iouniing, f,'ft>ing out at the jiat^scra- 
by. It was a stulTy, naisty littlo buck street, and tboro 
wore vory fow i)aasor8-by this bluc^k, bad February even- 
ing. The liouso hud a perpetual odor of onions and cab- 
bage and dinner, as it is ni the nature of sncli houses to 
luive, and the room, " first Jloor front,'* was in the hist 
stage of lodging-house shabbinjss and discomfort. 

The woman was quite alonj — a still, dark ligure sitting 
motionless by the grimy window. She might have betiu 
carved in stone, so still she sat — so still she had sat for 
more than two hours. Her worn hand lay idly in her laj), 
lier dark eyes looked straight before her with a lixed, dull 
despair dreadful to see. 

iter dress was black, of the i)0orest sort, frayiid and 
worn, and she shivered under a threadbare shawl drawn 
close arountl her shoulders. Yet, in spite of poverty aiid 
sickness, and despair and middle age, the wonuvn was 
beautiful still, with a dark and haggard and wild sort of 
beauty tlat would have haunted one to one's dying day. 

In her youth, and her first freshness and innocence, she 
must have been lovely as a dream; but that loveliness was 
all gone now — fierce sin and burning shame and bitter deg- 
radation were all Rtj»mi)ed indelibly on that dark, desjmir- 
ing face. 

The listless hinds lay itill, the great, glittering dark 
eyes stared blankly at the dingy houses opposite, at the 
straggling jiedestrians, at the thickening gloom. '^Fhe 
short February day was almost night now, the street-lamps 
ilared yellow and dull athwart the clammy fog. 

" Another day," the woman murmured, slowly — " an- 
other endless day of sick despair gone. Alone and dying 
— the most miserable creature on the wide earth. Oh, 
great God, who didst forgive Magdalene, have a little i)ity 



on me 



!'» 



A spasm of fierce anguish crossed her face for an instant, 
fading away, and leaving the hopeless despair more hope- 
less than before. 

" I am mad, worse than mad, to hojjc as I do. She will 
never look upon my guilty face — she so puro, so stainless, 
so sweet — how dare 1 ask it? Oh, what happy women 
there are in the world I Wives who love and are beloved, 
and are faithful to the end I And 1 — think how I drag on 
living with all that makes life worth liaving gone fore' ur. 



M 






186 



TiTK baronet's rniDE. 



whilo thoBO happy onoH, whoae lives uro one blissful dream, 
nro t«'iri by dcjitli from ull wlu) lovo thoih. To think that 
] onco hml i\ liuHbund, ti (;hil(l, a home; to think what I 
aim now — to think of it, and not to go mad I" 

Sho laid hor lucc againnt tho coltl glass with a misernblo 
groan. " Ilavo pity on mo, oh. Lord!" was hur despair- 
ing wail, " and let mc die!'' 

There was a rush of carriago-whcels without, a hansom 
cab whirled up to tho door, and a tall young man leaped 
out. Two mniutes more and the tall young man bural 
impetuously into the dark room. 

*' AH alono, Mrs. Donover," called a cheery voice, " and 
all in the dark? J)ari\ne88 isn't wholesome — too conducive 
to low B})irit8 and the blue devils. Halloo! Jane Anne, 
idol of niy young ad'ections, bring up the gas." 

lie leaned over tho greasy bahister, shouting into tho in- 
visible regions below, and was answered jjromptly enough 
by a grimy maid-servant with a llickering (li])-candle. 

" 'Tain't my fault, nor yet missis's, ' said this grimy 
maid, in an aggrieved tone. " Mrs. Denover will ait in 
the dark, which I've — " 

"That will do, .lano Anno," taking the dij) and \m- 
coromoniously cutting her short. " Vamose! evaj)orate! 
When J want you I'll sing out." 

He re-entered tho room and placed tho candle on tho 
table. Tho woman hail risen, and stood with both hands 
clasped over her heart, a wihl, gleaming, eager light in 
her black eyes, liut she strove to restrain herself. 

" I am glad to see you back, Mr. Parnuvlee," she said, 
falteringly. " 1 have been expecting you for the last two 
days." 

" And wearing yourself to skin and bone, as I know you 
would, with your fidgets. What's the good of taking on 
so!'' I told you I'd come back as quick as I could, and I've 
done 80. It ain't my fault that the time's been so long — 
it's Lady Kingsland's. " 

The wild look grew wilder; she came a step nearer. 

" You have seen her?'* 

"That I have. And very well worth seeing sho is, I 
toll you. She's as handsome as a picture, though not so 
han«l«orae as you must have been at her age, either, Mrs. 
Denover. And she says she'll see you." 

" Oh, thank God!" 



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THE rAPONRT's BRTDl, 



187 



lir- 



i 



Tko woman tottorc<l back and sunk into a chair, ntterly 
Hnnblc l.o Htund. 

" Tlmt'H ri<,'lit," mud Mr. rarnmloe; '* take a seat, and 
let MS talk iL all o\or at our eiisi>. ** 

He took ono liluist'lf, not in tho ordinary hunidruni 
fanhion, but witli hia fac;o to tho ba(^k, his arms (irosscd 
over it, and his long Icgn twistud 8(!ii'ntilioalIy round tho 
bottom. 

" I'vo soon him, and I've soon her/* said tho j)hotog- 
raplior, " and a iiner-looking <'ouj)i(5 ain't from licro to 
anyw'horo. And as tho Lord mado 'em. Ho matched 'em, 
for an all-lircd jn'ouder pair you couldn't meet in a sum- 
mer-day's walk." 

*' Siio comes of a proud race," tho woman murmured, 
feebly. ** The ITunsilens are of the best and <ddest stock 
in England." 

*' And she's a thorougli-hred, if over there was a tlior- 
ough-bred one yet, and blood will show in a wonum as well 
m a horse. Yes, she's ]m-()U(1, and she's handsome and 
high-8tep])ing, and dreadful cut up, I can tell you, at tho 
news 1 brought her." 

The woman covered her faco with her hands with a low 
moan. Mr. Parnuiloo com])()setlly went on: 

" She knew your picture tho minute she cla])ped eyes on 
it. I was afraid she might holler, as you wimmin do, at 
tho sight, and her husband and anotlier young woman 
were present; but she's got grit, that girl, the real sort. 
Sho turns round, by d'eorge! and gives me such a look — 
went through me like a carving-knife — and gets up with- 
ont a word and walks away. And she never sent for mo 
nor asked a (juestion about it, although I mentioned you 
gave it to me yourself, until 1 foroed her to it, and after 
that no one need talk to nie about tho curiosity of the fair 



jOvJL* 



)) 



'* Does her husband know?" 

" Tso; and he's as jealous as a Turk. I wrote her a note 
— just a line — and sent it by that other young woman I 
spoke of, and what docs ho do but come to me like a roar- 
ing lion, and like to pummel my innards out! 1 owe him 
one for that, and I'll i)ay him olT, too. I had to send 
again to my lady before she would condescend to see me, 
but when she did, 1 must say she behaved like a trump. 
SJio gave me thirty sovereigns plump down, promised me 



I, 



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IMAGE EVALUATION 
TEST TARGET (MT-3) 




1.0 



1.1 



128 



■ 50 






12.2 



I ■;£ 12.0 

MUl- 



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IL25 11.4 



1.6 




Photographic 

Sciences 
Corporation 




23 WfST MAIN STREET 

WEBSTER, N.Y. U580 

(716) 872-4503 






i^4 





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188 



THE BARONET S BRIDB. 



three hundred pounds, and told mo to fetch you along. 
It ain't as much as I expected to make in this speculation; 
but, on the whole, I consider it a pretty tolerable fair 
stroke of business." 

" Thank God!" the woman whispered, her face still 
hidden — "thank God! thank God! 1 shall see my lost 
darling once before I die!" 

" Now don't you go and take on, Mrs. Denover," ob- 
served Mr. Parmalee, " or you'll use yourself up, you 
know, and then you won't be able to travel to-morrow. 
And after to-morrow, and after you see your — Well, my 
lady, there's the other little trip back to Uncle Sam's do- 
mains you've got to make; for, of course, you ain't a-go- 
iug to stay in England and pester that poor young lady's 
life out?" 

" No," said Mrs. Denover, mournfully — " no, I will 
never trouble her again. Only let me see her once more, 
and I will go back to my native land and wait until the 
merciful God sends me death. " 

" Oh, pooh!" said the artist; " don't you talk like that 
— it kind of makes my flesh creep, and there ain't no sense 
in it. There's Aunt Deborah, down to our section — you 
remind me of her — she was always going on so, wishing 
she was in heaven, or something horrid, the whole time. 
It's want of victuals more than anything else. You 
haven't had any dinner, I'll be bound!" 

*' No; I could not eat." 

** Nor supper?" 

*' No; I never thought of it." 

Mr. Parmalee got up, and was out of the room and 
hanging o\er the baluster in a twinkling. 

" Here you, Jane Anne!" 

Jane Anne appeared. 

*' Fetch up supper, and look sharp — supper for two. 
Go 'round the corner and get us some oysters and a pint 
of port, and fetch up some baked potatoes and hot mut- 
ton chops — and quick about it." 

"Now, then," said Mr. Parmnlee, reappearing, "I've 
been and dispatched the slavey for provisions, and you've 
got to eat, marm, when they come. I won't have people 
living on one meal a day, and wishing they were in heaven, 
when I'm around. You've got to eat and drink, or you 
won't go a step with me to-morroir. '* 



if 






r>AXl^£/« 



•tQQ 



ion; 
fair 



Tbc threat was effective. The woman looked at him 
with wistful, yearning dark eyes. 

" 1 will do whatever you think best, Mr. Parmalee," 
she said, humbly. " You have been very good to me.^' 



a 



I know it," said Mr. Parmalee, with a nod. 



it 



always do the polite thing witli your sex. My mother was 
a woman. She's down in Maine now, and can churn and 
milk eight cows, and do chores, and make squash pie. 
Oh! them squash pies of my old lady's require to be eat to 
be believed in; and, for her sake, I always take to elderly 
female parties in distress. Here's the forage. Come in, 
Jane Anne, beloved of my soul, and dump 'cm down and 

go." 

Jane Anne did. Mr. Parmalee whif>ped off the covers, 
and a most savory odor arose. 

" Now, Mrs. Denover, you sit right up and fall to. 
Here's oysters, and here's mutton chops, raging hot, and 
baked potatoes — delicious to look at. And here's a glass 
of port wine, and you've got to drink it without a whim- 
per. Mind what 1 told you; you don't budge a step to- 
morrow unless you eat a hearty supper to-night. I've said 
it, and what I say is like the laws of the Swedes and — 
what's their names?" 

" You are very good to me," Mrs. Denover repeated, 
humbly and gratefully. *' What would have become of 
me but for you?" 

She strove to eat and drink to please him and to sustain 
her feeble strength, but every morsel seemed to choke her. 
She pushed away her plate at last and looked at him im- 
ploringly. 

" J can not eat another mouthful. Indeed I would if I 
could. I have no appetite at all of late." 

'* That's plain to be seen. Well, if you can't, you 
can't, of course. And now, as it's past nine, the best 
thing you can do is to go to bed at once, and get a good 
sleep before starting on your journey." 

With the same humility she had evinced throughout, 
the woman obeyed at once. Mr. Parmalee, left alone, 
sat over his oysters and his port, luxuriating in the thirty 
sovereigns in the present and the three hundred pounds in 
the prospective. 

" It's been an uncommon good investment," he reflect- 
ed '* and knocks th« photograph business into a cocked 



I 
11 



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;•' ^ 



r?: 



XQO 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



hat. Then there's Sybilla — she goes with the oargMa, 
too. Three hundred pounds and a handsome, black-eyed 
wife. I wish she hadn't such a devil of a temper; but it's 
in the grain of your black-eyed gals. I'll take her home 
to the farm, and if mother doesn't break her in she'll bo 
the first she ever failed with." 

Mr. Parmalee retired betimes, slept soundly, and was 
up, brisk and breezy, somewhere in the gray and dismal 
day-dawn. Breakfast, piping hot, smoked on the table 
when Mrs. Denover appeared — a wan, worn specter in the 
hollow morning light. 

" Eat, drink and be merry," said Mr. Parmalee. 
" Here's the feast of reason and the How of soul. Go in 
and win, Mrs. Denover. Try that under-done steak, and 
don't look quite so much like the ghost of Hamlet's fa- 
ther, if you can help it." 

The woman tried with touching humility to please him, 
and did her best, but that best was a miserable failure. 

A cab came for them in half an hour, and whirled them 
off on the first stage of their journey. 

In the golden light of the sunny spring afternoon Mr. 
Parmalee made his appearance again at the Blue Bell Inn, 
with a mysterious veiled lady, all in black, hanging on his 
arm. 

*' This here lady is my maiden aunt, come over from 
the State of Maine to see your British institutions," Mr. 
Parmalee said, in fluent fiction, to the obsequious land- 
lady. ** She's writing a book, and she'll mention the 
Blue Bell favorably in it. Her name is Miss Hcpzekiah 
Parmalee. Let her have your best bedroom and all the 
luxuries this here hotel affords, and I " — with a superb 
wave of the hand — " will foot the bill.'* 

He lighted a cigar and sallied forth, leaving his pale, 
ishrinking companion in charge of the curious landlady. 

*'Miss Hepzokiah Parmalee " dined alone in her own 
room; then sat by the window, with white face and 
strained eyes, waiting for Mr. Parmalee's return. 

It was almost dark when he came. He entered hurded- 
ly, flushed and excited. 

'* Fortune favors us this bout, Mrs. Denover," he said. 
** I've met an old cliurn down on the wharf yonder — a 
countryman — and I'd as soon have expected to find the 
President of the United States iu this little one-horse town. 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



191 



Mie name's Davis— Ciiptain Davis, of the schooner * An- 
gelina uobbs '—-anti, he's going to sail for Southampton 
this very nigl.it, if the wind holds. There's a streak of 
iucif, marm. A free passage for you and for me up to 
Southampton to-night." 

'* But my— Lady Kingsland?" she faltered. 

" I've made that all right, too. 1 met one of the 
flunkies — an undor-gardenor — and sent word to Sybilla — a 
young lady that lives in the house — that we were here, and 
that she'd better see us at once. I expect an answer 
every — Ah, by George I speak of the — here she is!" 

It was Miss Sybilla Silver, saihng gracefully down the 
street. Mr. Parmalee darted out and met her — superbly 
handsome, her dark cheeks flushed with some inward ex- 
citement, her black eyes gleaming with strange fire. The 
stoical artist was fairly dazzled. 

" Is she here?" she breathlessly asked. 

Mr. Parmalee nodded toward the window. It was not a 
very lover-like greeting. They did not even shake hands; 
but then curious eyes were watching them. 

Sybilla gazed up a moment at the pale, haggarct face 
with her gleaming eyes. 

" They are alike," she said, under her breath — '* moth- 
er and daughter — and that face is scarcely more haggard 
than the other now. We have had a dreadful quari«l, 
Mr. Parmalee, since you left, up at the Court" 

" Want to know about me?" 

" Partly. About the secret — about that meeting in the 
Beech Walk. He absolutely threatened her life." 

" Should like to have been there to hear him," said Mr. 
Parmalee. " It would be paying off old scores a little. 
How did she take it?" 

*' She fainted. Her maid found her in a dead swoon 
next morning. She did not tell Sir Everard, by my 
advice; he would have been for making it up directly. 
They have not met since — my doing, too. He thinks she 
is sulking in her room. He is half mad to be reconciled 
— to make a fool of himself, asking pardon, and all that 
^-but I have taken good care he shall not He thinks she 
is obstinate and sullen; she thinks he is full of nothing 
but rage and revenge. It is laughable to manage them." 

" i'un to you, but death to them/' observed the artist 
"* Yeu are flinty, Sybilla, and no snistake. I'm pr©tt,v 



H: 



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I ' 



1 



rf*^ 



m 



i 



192 



THE BARONET'S BRIDE. 



* 






hard myself, but I couldn't torment folks like that in eolft 
blood. lt*s none of my business, however, and 1 don't 
care how high you pile the agony on him. Did you tell 
her the elderly party was here?" 

*' Yes. She has not left her room for three days. She 
IS the shadow of her former self, and she was dreadfully 
digitated upon hearing it; but she answered, firmly, * 1 will 
.ice her, and at once. 1 will meet her to-night. ' 1 asked 
whore, and then, for the first time, she was at a loss." 

" The Beech Walk," suggested the artist. 

" The Beech Walk is watched. Sir Everard's spies are 
on the lookout. No — I know a better place. The young 
plantation slopes down to the very water's edge; the 
shrubbery is thick and dense, the spot gloomy; no one 
ever goes there. You can come by water and fetch her in 
the boat. Land on the shore under the stone terrace, 
about midnight. All will have retired, and my lady will 
meet you there." 

"And you, Sybilla? The old lady and me, we sail at 
the turn of the tide for Southampton — from there to take 
passage for America. I suppose you hain't forgotten your 
promise to marry me?" 

She laughed softly — a sweet, derisive laugh. 

"Is it likely, George? I will follow you to America 
and we will be married there. It is impossible for me to 
go with you now. You can wait a couple of mouths, caii 
you not?" 
' But—" 

She laid her hand on his arm softly and looked up in 
his face with luminous eyes of dusky splendor. 

" You must wait, George. 1 love you, and I will follow 
you and be your true and devoted wife. But you must 
wait a little. Say you agree, and let us part until we 
meet again — where? In New York?" 

" I suppose so," Mr. Parmalee responded, gruffly. 
" You're boss in this business, it seems, and I've got to 
do as you say. But it's hard on a fellow; 1 calk'lated on 
taking you over with me." 

" Would you have me go to you penniless? If you wait 
1 will come to you with a fortune. Don't ask questions, 
and don't stand staring. Believe me, and trust me, and 
wait. You will bo on the stone terrace at twelve to-night?" 
She will," said the Annirican. "I'll wait in the 



(< 



THE r.ARONET S BRIDB. 



"a 



199 



boat. ^Tain't likely thoy want me to bo present at tlieir 
interview. Just remind my lady to fetch along the throe 
hundred pounds, and don't let her fail to come. I want 
to sail in the * Angelina Dobbs ' to-night. " 

*' She will not fail. She will come." 

Her eyes blazed up with a lurid fire as sne said it. A 
strange, unearthly light illumined her dark face for an in- 
stant, and was gone. 

*' She will be there,'' she said, '* and she shall fetch the 
three hundred pounds. Do you not fail!" 

" I will not. Will you be there, too, Sybilla?" 

** I? Of course not. There is no need of mo." 

" Then we say good-bye here?" 

*^Yes. Good-bye, George, until we meet in Now 
York." 

She laughed up in his face — a laugh of pure derision; 
but he did not know it. 

*' I will write to you from there," he said, wringing her 
hand. " Good-bye, Sybilla! I will be at the trysting- 
place to-night, lie sure the other party is, too. " 

*' Without fail. Adieu, and — forever!" 

She waved her hand and flitted away, uttering the last 
word under her breath. 

Mr. Parmalee watched her out of sight, heaved a heavy 
sigh, and went back to the house. 

Swiftly Sybilla Silver fluttered along in the chill even- 
ing wind, her face to the sunset sky. But not the pale 
yellow luster of that February sunset lighted her dark face 
with that lurid, unnatural light — the flame burned within. 
Two fierce red spots blazed on either ciieek; her cyea 
glowed like living coals; her hands were clinched under 
ner shawl. 

" She will be there," she whispered, under her brcatk 
— '* she will be there, but she never will return. By the 
wrongs of the dead, by the vengeance I have sworn, this 
night shall be her last on earth. And he shall pay tha 
penalty — my oath will be kept, the astrologer's prediction 
iHl^Ued, and 2enith the gypsy avenged I" 



:^i 



:i'i. 



194 



THE BAROKET'S BKIDE. 



i 



i 



CHAPTEK XXVil. 

•' HAVE YOU PRAYED TO-NTGllT, DKSDEMOl^A?" 

I'lfE Sim went down — a fiurco and vvratlifiil sunset. 
Bluck and brazen yellow ilanied in the western sky; the sea 
hiy glassy and broathietis; the wind came in fitful gusts 
until the sun went down, and then died out in dead and 
ominous calm. The trees hi the ^Dark shivered and 
moaned — their prescience of coming storm; inky clouds 
scudded over the wrathful sky; night fell an hour befor« 
its time. 

My lady sat by her chamber window, looking out af 
black sea and blacker sky. Exquisite pictures, wonderful 
bric-a-brac treasures, inlaid tables and cabinets, richest 
carpets and curtains, and chairs that were like ivory 
touched up with gold, made the room a miracle of beauty. 

Books and flowers — all of the brightest and best — fuU- 
length mirrors, a bijou of a Swiss clock that played lovely 
kittle tunes-- everything love and money combined coald 
procure was there to brishton my lady's bower. 

But my lady herself, sitting alone amid the rose-colored 
curtains, looking blankly out at the menacing sky, wore a 
face as dark as that sky itself. She had wasted to a ahad- 
ow; dark circles under her hollow eyes told of sleepless 
nights and wretched days; her cheeks were haggard, her 
lips bloodless. 

The white morning-dress she still wore clung loosely 
around hei wasted figure; all the bright hair was pasted 
impatiently off her face and confined in a net. 

What did it matter what she wore, since she never left- 
the room — since his eyes never fell on her? 

No one who had seen Harrie llunsden, radiant as 
Hebe, blooming as Venus, daring as Diana, at the mem- 
orable fox-hunt of a little more than a year ago, wooid 
ever have recognized this haggard, pallid, wretched-kok- 
iug Lady Kingsland as the same. 

She sat still and alone, gazing out at the dreary desola- 
tion of earth and heaven. The great house was stili as a 
tomb; the bustle of the servants' regions was far removed, 
the gnawing of a mouse behind the black paneling, the 
ioft ticking of th@ toy clock soujidod unnaturally loud. 



THE BAUONET*B BRIDE, 



19a 



The pale, fixed fuoe, the duck, despairing eyes were 
stran;,'oly like that otlnu- woru i'aue that had gazed from 
the shabby London loilging-hi)U80 but two evenings before. 

" Darkening,'*' Harriot thouglit, looking at the leaden 
twilight — "darkening, like my life. Not two months a 
wi^i, and his love and trust gone forever. May Heaven 
piOy me, for there is none on earth!" 

There was a tap at the door. Lady Kingsland had 
learned to knovv that soft, light tap — ^he had heard it 
often of late. A shiver ran over her, her pale lips com- 
pressed, her face set cold and rigid as marble. 

"■ Come in,'' she said; and Sybilla entered. 

She did not pause at the closed door as usual; she glided 
noiselessly across the room and stood beside her. So like 
a ghost she camo, her dead-black garments making no 
rustle, her footfall making no sound, her white face awfully 
corpse-like in the spectral light, her black eyes glowing 
like a cat's in the dark; my lady shrunk in absolute 
affright. 

" Don't come any nearer!'' she cried, putting out her 
hands. " What do you want?" 

" I have seen Mr. Parnialee, my lady." 

Her tones were the same as usual — soft, and melodious, 
and respectful. But the gentle voice did not reassure 
Lady Kingsland. 

'* Well?" she said, coldly. 

"He will be there, my lady. At half past eleven to- 
night you will find — your mother "—slowly and distinctly 
— " waiting for you on the terrace down by the shore." 

" Half past eleven. Why so very late?" 

" My lady, it will not be safe for you to venture out be- 
fore. You are watched!" 

She sunk her voice to a thrilling whisper. My lady'g 
pale face flushed vivid red in an instant. 

"Watched!" she repeated, haughtily. " Do you mean, 
Sybilla Silver—" 

"I mean, my lady," Miss Silver said, firmly, "Sir 
Everard has set spies. The Beech Walk is watched by 
night and by day. Claudine is little better than a tool in 
the hands of Edwards, the valet, with whom she is in love. 
She tells everything to Edwards, and Edwards repeats to 
his master. A quarter past eleven all will be still — the 
household will ImQ retired—you may venture lortb in 



; 1 






-^. -M'^ w ^ 'Hf'. 



19G 



THE 15AK0NI:T s huidk. 



! >: 



safety. Tlic iii^lit will bo chirk, ilio way lonely ;iiul (Ii'k- 
mal; but you know it every iucli. On the sLouu terruco, 
at half i)ast eleven, you will Ihul — your mother awaiting 
you. You can talk to her in perfect safety, and for an 
long as you choose. '* 

The dark-rod glow — abin-ningflrcof shanio — yet lighted 
my lady's faeo. 

*' Have you aeon her?" she asked. 

** At the window of the Blue Jiell Inn — yes, my lady. It 
is very rash for her to expose herself, too, for hers is u 
face to strike attention at once, if only for the wreck of its 
beauty, and for its unutterable look of despair. But as 
she leaves again so soon, I dare say nothing will come of 
it." 

'* When do they leave?" 

•' To-night. It appears a friend of Mr. Parmalec is 
captain of a little vessel down in the harbor, and ho sails 
for Southampton at the turn of the tide — somewhere past 
midnight. It is a very convenient arrangement for all 
parties. By the bye, Mr. Parmalocj told me to remind 
you, my lady, of the three hundred pounds." 

*' Mr. Parmalee is impertinent. I need no reminder. 
Have you anything more to say, Miss Silver?" 

"Only this, my lady: the servants' entrance on the 
south side of the house will be the safest way for you to 
take, and the nearest. If you dread the long, dark walk, 
my lady, I will be only too happy to accompany you." 

A stare, haughty and angry, was all Miss Silver's reward 
for this. 

*'You are very good. I don't in the least dread it. 
When I wish you to accompany me anywhere I will say 



so. 



}> 



Sybilla bowed, rebuked, and the darkness hid a sinister 
smile. She had known what the reply would be before- 
hand. 

'* You have no orders for me, then, my lady?" 

" None. Yes, you had better see Claudine, and say I 
shall not require her services to-night. Inform me when 
the servants have all retired, and " — a momentary hesita- 
tion, but still speaking proudly — *' does Sir Everard dine 
at hoDie this evening?" 

" Sir Everard just rode off as I came in, my lady. He 
dmes with Major Morrell and the officers, and will not re- 



THE HARONET'H BUIDE. 



1»7 



11 or im 
Ightcd 



fly. Jt 
is ji 



turn iiniil pust niidniglil;, very likely. lie is always late 
aL tiioso military diiiiiorH." 

" That will do; yoii may go." 

*' {Shall I not liglit tho lamp, my lady?" 

" No; be good enough to leave mo. 

Sybilla quitted tho room, her white tectii set together 
in a viperish clinch. 

" llow she hates me, and how resolved she is to show iti 
Very well, my lady. You don't hate me one thousandth 
narli as much as 1 hate you; and yet my hatred of you is 
but a drop in the ocean C()mi)ared to my deadly vengeance 
against your husband. (Jo, my haughty Lady Kingsland 
—go to your trvst — go to your doathP* 

Liil't alone, Ilai'riot sat in the deepening darkness for 
over three hours, never moving — still and motionless as if 
turned to stone. 

The very " blackness of darkness " reigned without. 
8ky and earth and sea were one inky pall of gloom. The 
wind was rising again in wailing gusts, sobbing through 
tho trees like a hunum thing in misery; the dull wash of 
the booming waves, far down on the shore, sounded like 
distant thunder. 

And still my lady sat, her eyes fixed on the rayless 
blackness, her hands locked together in her lap — the gloom 
of the ghastly February night not half so deep, not half so 
deadly as the gloom of her heart. 

The pretty Swiss clock played a waltz preparatory to 
striking eleven. She sat and listened until the last musical 
chime died away; then she rose, groped her way to the 
low, marble chimney-piece, struck a lucifer, and lighted a 
large lamp. 

The brilliant light flooded the room. Sybilla's rap came 
that same instant softly upon the door. 

"My lady." 

" I hear," my lady said, not opening it. " What is it?'* 

"All have retired; the house is as still as the grave. 
The south door is unfastened; the coast is clear." 

** It is well. Good-night.^ 



»f 



"Good-night." 



She stood a moment listening to the soft rustle of Misa 
Silver's skirts in the passage, then, slowly and mechanic- 
ally, she began to prepare for her night's work. 

She took a long, shrouding mantle, wrapped it around 



li 






Hi 



! ■ M 

Kir 
■i 



'• 



' 






198 



THE BAHONFT'fl BUTDE. 



hi 



( '. 



h ! 



her, drew tho hood over her lioml, and oxdiangod her 
Hlippors for stout vvtvlkiujjj-Hhoes. 'I'licTi slio unlockod hor 
writinjj-case and drew forth a roll of bank-notes, thrust 
them into her hosoin, and stood ready. 

]>ut hIio paused an instant yet. Siio stood before one of 
tho full-length mirrors, looking at lier spectral faee, so hol- 
low, so liaggard, out of which all the youth and beauty 
seemed gone. 1 

" And this is what one short month ago he called bright 
and beautiful — this wasteil^ sunken-eyed vision. Youth 
and beauty, love and trust and happiness, homo and hus- 
band, all lost Oh, my father, what have you done?'* 

8he gave one dry, tearless sob. Tho clock struck tho 
quarter past. The sound aroused her. 

" My mother," she said — " let me think I go to meet 
my mother. Sinful, degraded, an outcast, but still my 
mother. Let me think of that, and be brave.*' 

She opened her door; the stillness of death reigned. Sho 
glided down the corridor, down the sweeping stair-way, tho 
soft carpeting muffling every tread — tho dim night-lamps, 
burning the night through in those spacious passages, 
lighting her on her way. 

No human sound startled her. All in the house wore 
peacefully asleep — all save that flying figure, and one 
other wicked watcher. She gained the door in safety. It 
yielded to her touch. She opened it, and was out alone in 
the black, gusty night. 

The path leading to the stone terrace through the plan- 
tation was as familiar to Lady Kingsland as path could bo 
— a gloomy path even at midday, lost in shadows, deserted 
and lonely as the heart of some primeval forest. But at 
this ghostly hour, under yonder black sky, with the wind 
roaring in unearthly shrieks through the rocking trees, it 
required no ordinary courage to face its dismal horrors. 

But Harriet Kingsland's brave heart quailed only for a 
moment; then she plunged resolutely forward into the 
gloom. Shipping, stumbling, falling, rising again, the 
wind beating in her face, the branches catching like angry 
hands at her garments — still she hurried on. Her heart 
seemed to have ceased its throbbings, the white dew of un- 
utterable horror stood on her brow, but with hands out- 
spread before her, with wild eyes straining the darkness, 
she went bravely on. It was a long, long, tortuous path, 



.M-i 



TflE ItAUOl-iKX's bUIDI. 



190 



but it came to un end. The roar of tho soa soiindod 
uwfuUy loud as it rose in sullon iniijosty, tlio Hags of tho 
stono torraco rang under hur feet. J'ariting, breaUilcss, 
cold as death, ahe leaned against the iron railing, her handa 
pressed hard over her tumultuous heart. 

It was light hero. A fitful midnight moon, palo and 
feeble, was breaking through a rift in tho cloudn, and 
shedding its sickly glimmer over tho black earth and rag- 
ing sea. To her eyes, accustomed to the dense darkness, 
every object was jdaiidy visible. fShe strained her guzo 
over the waves to catch tho coming boat she know was to 
bear those she had come to meet; she listened breathlessly 
to every sound. liut for a weary while she listened, anfii 
watched, and waited in vain. AVhat was that? A foot- 
step crashing through tho under-wood uear at hand. Sho 
turned with a wordless cry of terror. A tall, dark liguro 
emerged from the trees and strode straight toward her. 
An awful voice spoko: 

" 1 swore by tho Lord who made me I would murder 
you if you ever came again to meet that man. False wife, 
accursed traitoress, meet your do(»mI" 

Sho uttered a long, low cry. She recognized the voice 
— it was the voice of her husband; she recognized the 
form — her husband's — towering over her, with a long, 
gleaming dagger in his hand. 



H 



I 'I 



CHAPTER XXVm. 

ON THE STONE TERRACE. 

When Sybilla Silver parted from Lady Kingsland out- 
side the chamber door, she went straight to her own room, 
and began her preparations for that night's work. 

The tlaming red spots, all foreign to her usual complex- 
ion, blazed on either cheek-bone; her black eyes shone like 
the eyes of a tigress crouched in a jungle. 

But she never faltered — she never wavered in her deadly 
purpose. The aim of her whole life was to be fulfilled this 
night — the ma7ics of her dead kinsfolk to be appeased. 

Her first act was to sit down and write a note. It was 
very brief, illy spelled, vilely written, on a sheet of coarsest 
paper, and sealed with a big blotch of red wax and. thj 
Impress o£ a grimj^ thumb. Thia is what Miss Silver wrote: 



' . ill 



200 



THK BAHONET'S lUHDE. 



*' SUR nKVEKAHD KjNGSLAND: 

*' IIoNUHED Sill, — This is to 



tm i 



il i U i 



! 



f 1 



IS to Say chrtt my Lady k 
Promised the hameriusm Gent, for to meet him this Night 
at Midnight on the Stone Terrace, Which honoured Sir you 
ought to Know, which is why 1 write. 

" Yours too Command, A Fjuend/* 

The young lady smi'ed over this composition tho smile 
of a beautiful devil. 

" This will do it, I think. Sir Everard will visit the 
stone terrace to-night before he sleeps. It will be f uJ^y 
eleven, probably half past, before he comes home. Ho 
will find this anonymous communication awaiting him. 
lie will fume and stamp and spurn it, but he will go, all 
the same. And then!" 

She sealed the note, directed it in the same atrocious fist 
to the baronet, and then, rising, proceeded deliberately to 
undress. 

But not to go to bed. A large bundle lay on a chair; she 
opened it, drew forth a full suit of man's attire — an even- 
ing suit that the young baronet had worn but a few times, 
and the very counterpart of that which he wore to-night. 

Miss Silver stood before the glass and arrayed herself in 
these. She was so tall that they fitted her very well, and 
when her long hair was scientifically twisted up, and a hat 
oE Sir Everard's crushed down upon it, she was as hand- 
some a young fellow as you could see in a long day's search. 

That vague and shadowy resemblance to the baronet, 
which Mr. Parmalee had once noticed, was very palpable 
and really striking when she threw over all a long riding- 
cloak which Sir Everard often wore. 

"You will do, I think," she said, to her transformed 
image in the glass. " Even my lady might mistake yoo 
for her husband in the uncertain moonlight." 

She left the mirror, crossed the room, unlocked a trunk 
with a key she took out of her bosom, and drew forth a 
morocco scabbard case. The crest of the Kingslands and 
tho monogram " E. K.,'' fancifully wrought, decorated 
the leather. 

Opening this, she drew forth a long, glittering Spanish 
stiletto, not much tliicker Lhiui a cnarte' noodle, but strong 
and glittering and deadly kooii. On fhc bliining blade tho 
monogram " E. K" was again wrui!j.^Jil. 



il 



THE BARONET S BRIDE. 



201 



i3 



sho 



" Sir Evcrard has not missed his pretty toy yet," she 
muttered. "If he had only dreamed, when lie saw it 
first, not a fortnight ago, of the deed it would do this 
night!" 

Sho closed the trunk, thrust the dagger into its scab- 
bard, the scabbard into her bosom, blew out the lamp, and 
softly opened the door. Sho paused a second to listen. 
All was still as the grave. 

Sho locked her door securely, put the key in her pocket, 
and stole toward Sir Everard*s rooms. Her kid slippers 
fell light as snow-flakes on the carpet. She opened the 
baronet's dressing-room door. It had been his sleeping- 
room, too, of late. His bed stood ready prepared; a lamp 
burned diuily on the dressing-table. Beside the lamp Miss 
Silver placed her anonymous letter, then retreated as 
noiselessly as she had entered, shut the door, and glided 
stealthily down the corridor, down the stairs, along the 
passages, and out of the same door which my lady had 
l)a3sed not ten minutes previously. 

Swift as a snake, and more deadly of purpose, Sybilla 
glided along the gloomy avenues of the wood toward the 
sea-side terrace. Every nerve seemed strung like steel, 
every fiber of her body quivered to its utmost tension. Her 
eyes blazed in the dark like the eyes of a wild cat; she 
looked like a creature possessed of a devil. 

She reached the extremity of the woodland path almost 
as soon as her victim. A moment she paused, glaring upon 
her with eyes of fiercest hate as sho stood there alone and 
defenseless. The next, she drew out the flashing stiletto, 
ilung away the scabbard, and advanced with it in her hand 
and horrible words upon her lips. 

'* I swore by the Lord who made me I would murder 
you if you ever came again to meet that man! False wife, 
accursed traitoress, meet your doom!" 

There was a wild shriek. In that fitful light she never 
doubted for a moment but that it was her husband, and 
the voice — Sybilla's stage practice and talent for mimicry 
stood her in good stead here — the voice was surely his. 

" Have mercy!" sho cried- " 1 am innocent, EverardI 
Oh, for God's sake, do not murder me!" 

" Wretch— traitoress — diel You are not fit to pollute the 
earth longer! Go to your grav with my hate and my 
curse I" 



' ti 



\ \ 



W 



i: 



202 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



i ! 



(ill 



With a Rudden paroxysm of mad fury the dagger was 
lifted — one fierce hand gripped Harriet's throat. A choking 
shriek — the dagger fell — a gurg.ing cry drowned in her 
throat— a fierce spurt of hot blood — a reel backward and a 
heavy fall over the low iron railing — down, down on the 
black shore beneath — and the jiallid moonlight gleaming 
above shone on one figure standing on the stone terrace, 
alone, with a dagger dripping blood in its hand. 

She did not fly; it had all been too premeditated for that. 
She leaned over the rail. Down below— far down — she 
could see a slender figure, with long hair blowing in the 
blast, lying awfully still on the sands. Not five feet of! 
the great waves washed, rising, steadily rising. In five 
minutes more they would wash the feet of the terrace — that 
slender figure would lie there no more. 

" The fall alone would have killed her," the female 
fiend thought, glancing along the height. " Before I am 
half-way back to the house those white-capped waves will 
be her shroud/' 

She wrapped her cloak around her and fled away — back, 
swift as the wind, into the house, up the stairs. Safe in her 
own room, she tore ofE her disguise. The cloak and the 
trousers were horribly spotted with blood. She made all 
into one compact package, rolled up the dagger in the 
bundle, stole back to the baronet's dressing-room and list- 
ened, and peeped through the key-hole. He was not 
there; the room was empty. She went in, thrust the 
bundle out of sight in the remotest corner of the wardrobe, 
and hastened back to her chamber. Her letter still lay 
where she had left it. The baronet had not yet returned. 

In her own room Miss Silver secured the door upon the 
inside, according to custom, donned her night-dress, and 
went to bed— went to bed, but not to sleep — to watch and 
\7ait. 

4^ 4^ 9 n^ ^ Sp ^ 

The mess dinner was a very tedious affair to one guest 
*^t least. Major Morrell and the officers told good stories 
and sung doubtful wOngs, and passed the wine and grew 
hilarious; but Sir Everard Kingsland chafed horribly ander 
it all, and longed for the hour of his release. 

A dull, aching torture lay at his heart; a chill prcsenti- 
saent of evil had been with him all day; the tortures of love 
and rage and jealousy had lashed him nearly into madaees. 



THE bak* 'Set's bride. 



203 



er 

a 

he 



Sfwnetimes love carried all before him, and he would 
start lip to rush to the side of the wife he loved, to clasp 
aer to his heart, and defy earth and Hades to part thetn. 
►Sometimes an<Ter held the day, and he would puce up and 
dc^vn like a madman, raging at her, at himself, at Parma- 
ice. at ail the world. Sometimes it was the wild beast, 
jealousy, and he would fling himself face downward on the 
sofa, writhing in the unutterable torture of that mental 
agony. 

He was haggard and worn and wild, and his friends 
stared at him and shrugged their shoulders, and smiled sig- 
nificantly at this outward evidence of post-nuptial bliss. 

It was almost midnight when the young baronet mounted 
Sk' Galahad and rode home. The trees tossed in the stormy 
moonlight, jagged clouds rent their way through the low- 
ering sky, the night wind pierced to the bone. Kiugsland 
Court lay dark and still under the frowning night sky. 
He glanced up at the window of his wife's chamber. A 
light burned there. A longing, wistful look filled Ikis 
blue eyes, his arms stretched out involuntarily, his heart 
gave a great plunge, as though it would break away and 
fly to its idol. 

*' My darling!" he murmured, passionately — '* my dat- 
ing, my life, my love, my wife! Oh, my God to think I 
should love her, wildly, madly still, believing her— know^ 
ing her to be false!" 

He went up to his dressing-room, his heart full to b«rat- 
ing. A mad, insane longing to go to her, to foiu aer to 
his breast, to forgive her all, to take her, guilty or inno- 
cent, and let p-;de and honor go to the winds, was upoa 
him. He ]ovk . her so intensely, so passionately, that life 
without her, apart from her, was hourly increasing torture. 
. The sight of a folded note lying on the table alone ar- 
fieated liis excited steps. He took it up, looked at the 
strange superscription, tore it open, ran over its diabolical 
contents, and reeled as if struck a blow, 

'* Great Heaven! it is not true! it can not be true! it is 
a vile, accursed slander! My wife meet this man alone, 
and at midnight, in that forsaken spot! Oh, it is impos- 
sible! May curses light upon the slanderous coward wko 
dared to write this infernal lie!" 

He flung it, in a paroxysm of mad fury, into the fire. 



!. 



' I 



■ II 



204 



THE baronet's BRTDE. 



A flash of flame, and Sybilla Silver's artfully writteD note 
was forever gone. He started up in white fury. 

*' I will go to her room; I will see for myself! I will 
find her safely asleep, I know!'^ 

But a horrible misgiving filled him, even while he ut- 
tered the brave words. He dashed out of his room and 
into his wife's. It was deserted. He entered the bed- 
room. She was not there; the bed had not been slept in. 
He passed to her boudoir; that, too, was vacant. 

Sir Everard seized the bull-rope and rang a jieal that 
resounded with unearthly echoes through the sloeping 
house. Five minutes of mad impatience — ten; then 
Claudine, scared and shivering, appeared, en sac de nuit 
and in her bare feet. 

" Where is your mistress?" 

The unexpected sight of her master — his white, wild 
face and hoarse question — made Claudine recoil with a 
shriek. 

" Mon Dieu ! how should I know? Is not my lady in 
bed?" 

*' No; her bed has not been slept in to-night. She is in 
none of her rooms. When did you see her last?" 

" About ten o'clock. Sho dismissed me for the night; 
she said she would undress herself. " 

" Where is Miss Silver?" 

*' In bed, I think, monsieur." 

" Go to her — tell her 1 want to see her at once. Lose 
no time. " 

Claudine disappeared. Miss Silver was so very soundly 
asleep that it required five minutes rapping to rouse her. 
Once aroused, however, she threw on a dressing-gown, 
thrust her feet into slippers, and appeared before the bar- 
onet, with a pale, anxious, inquiring face. 

** Where is my wife? Where is Lady Kingsland?" 

** Good Heaven I is she not here?" 

** No. You know where she is! Tell me, I commanu 
you!" 

Sybilla Silver covered her face with both hands, and 
cowered before him with every sign of guilt. 

" Spare me!" she cried, faintly. "I dare not tell you!" 

lie made one stride forward, caught her by the arm, his 
eyes glaring like the eyes of a tiger. Neither of them 
heeded the wondering'; Claudine, 



Tin; IlAUONKT^S r.I.'IDK. 



206 



lote 
rill 

lut- 
md 

ktl- 
in. 



" Speak!" lie tbuDdiM-od; " or by ilin llcavon above us, 
I'll tear it from your throat! Is she with hiiiii"* 

*' She is," cowering, ahriiiiiing, trembiiug. 

There was an awful pause. 

" Where?" 

'* On the stone terrace." 

*' llow do you know?" 

" llo returneil this afternoon; he sent for mo; ho toM 
nic to tell lier to moot him there to-night, about miduigh'. 
She did not think yon would return before two or three — 
Oh, for pity's sake — " 

lie thrust her from liini with a force tliar, sent her reel- 
ing against the wall. 

" I'll have thBir hearts' blood!" he thundered, with an 
awful oath. 

The horrible voice, tlie horrible oath, was like nofhifig 
earthly. The two women cowered down, too intensoly 
frightened even to scream. One other listener recoiled in 
wordless horror. It was El wards, the v.det. 

The madman, goaded to insane fury, had rushed out of 
the hall — out of the hons"!. The trio looked at each other 
with bloodless faces and dilattid eyes of terror. 

Edwards was the lirst to tind liis paralyzed tongue: 

" May the Lord have mercy upon us! There'll be mur« 
dor dont; this night!" 

Tlic two women never ypoke. Huddled together, they 
clung to Edwards, as women do cling to men in their bout 
of fear. 

Half an hour passed; they never moved nor stirred. 
They crouched and waited. 

Ten minutes more, and Sir Everard dashed in among 
thf'm as he had dashed out. 

" It is false!" he shouted — " a false, devilish slandc!-! 
Bho is not there!" 

A shriek from Claudinc — a wild, wild shriek. Win 
bloodless cheek and starting eyes, she was pointing to tiic 
baronet's hands. 

All looked and echoed that horror-struck cry. They 
were literally dripping blood! 



206 



THE r.AIlONKT .S r.T'JDr. 



CIIAPTEJi XXIX. 



f >} 



^.l{A^'DKD. 

A BLAXK, divtidi'ul 2>">i^9 I'ollowtd. They looked at 
liim, V* on^ iiuother, in white, frozen horror, and then re- 
Goileil. 

The wurnnet lifted his litinds to the light, and guzed ut 
their criaisou hue witli will, diluted o,es uiid ghiis'ly face. 

"Blood!" he t^ail, i:i an awful whi^pjf — "blood — 
Goi d God, it is iierts! She is nniideM 1!" 

The three listeners rocr'ile 1 still further, Triralvzcd at the 
sight, at the words, at the a-.vful thought that a murderer, 
reii-hanrlt'd, ctood bofore them. 

The V'ung husband heeled them not. In the Hash of 
an eye lie was galvanized inlio new life. 

" A horrible deed his be^n done tin's nightl" ho cried, 
in a voice that rang down tho long hall like a bugle blast. 
'* A murder has been ennimiltedl House the li«/use, fotdi 
lights, and fulK>\v mel" 

Edwiirds rose up, tvembling in every limb. 

" Quiekl" his masLet thundered. " Is this a time to 
stand ag.'ipe? k5yi)illa, sound the alarm! Let all rise and 
join in the search." 

In a m >ment all was confusion. Claudine, o£ a higMf 
excitable temi)erament, no sooner recovered from her 
stupor of disniay, thee with a piercing shriek, she fainted 
and tumbled over in a he.ip. 

But no one heeded her. Bella rang, lights flashed, serv- 
ants, white and wild, rushed to and fro, and over all the 
voice of tlie muster rang, giving his orders. 

In this supreme mtment ho was himself again, his faci! 
like the face of a dead man, but his voice clear and ring- 
ing in stern command. 

" Lights, lights!" he shouted. " Men, why do you 
linger and stare? Lights! and follow me to the stone ter- 
race." 

He led the way. There was a general rush from the 
house. The men bore lanterns; the women clung to the 
men, terror and curiosity struggling, but curiosity getting 
the better of it. In dead silence all made tiieir way to the 
Btone terrace — all but one. 



, 



THE BAROKET'S bride. 



M 



Sybilla Silver saw thorn depart, stood a moment, irreso- 
fule, then turned and sped away to Sir Everard's dressing- 
room. She drew the compact bundle of C3lothe8 from thttir 
corner, removed the dagger, tied up the bundle again with 
the weight inside, and hurriedly left the house. 

** These bloOLJ-stained garments are not needed to fix the 
guilt upon him," she said to herself; '* that is done already. 
The appearance of those would only create confusion and 
perplexity — perhaps help his cause. I'll destroy these and 
fling away the dagger in the wood. They'll be sure to find 
it in a day or two. They will make such a search that if a 
needle were lost it would be found." 

There was an old sunken well, half filled with slimy, 
green water, mud, and filth, in a remote end of the plan- 
tation. Thither, unobserved, Sybilla made her way in the 
ghostly moonlight and flung her blood-stained bundle into 
its vile, poisonous depths. 

" Lie there!" she muttered. ** You have done your 
work, and I fling you away, as 1 fling away all my tools 
at my pleasure. There, in the green muck and slimy filth, 
you will tell no tales." 

She hurried away and struck into a path leading to the 
stone terrace. She could see the lanterns in the diatanoe 
flashing like fire-fly sparks; she could hear the clear voice 
of Sir Everard Kiugsland commanding. All at once the 
twinkling lights were still; there was a deep exclamation in 
the baronet's voice, a wild chorus of feminine screams, 
then blank silence. 

Sybilla Silver threw the dagger, with a quick, fierce gest- 
ure, into the wood, and sprung in among them with glis- 
tening, greedy black eyes. They stood in a semicircle, iu 
horror-struck silence, on the terrace. The light of half a 
doaen lanterns streamed redly on the stone flooring, but 
redder than that lurid light, a great pool of blood lay gory 
before them. The iron railing, painted creamy white, was 
all clotted with jets of blood, and, clinging to a projecting 
knob, something fluttered in the bleak blast, but they did 
not see it. All eyes were riveted on the awful sight before 
them — every tongue was paralyzed. Over all the strug- 
gling moon tore through ragged black clouds, and the spnay 
ol the angry waves leaped up in their ver> faces. Ed- 
wards, the valet, was the first to break the dreadful silenoe. 
My master r* he epied, shrilly; " he will falU" 



1 



I ! 



(4 



208 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



■, L 



.1 



t i' 



r I 



I ]': 



He dropped his lantern and sprung forward just in time 
and no more. The young baronet reeled and fell heavily 
backward. The sight of that blood— the life-blood of his 
bride — seemed to freeze the very heart in his body. With 
a low moan he lay in his servant's arms like a dead man. 

" lie has fainted," said the voice of Sybilla Silver. 
*' Lift him up and carry him to the house.'' 

" Wait!" cried some one. " What is this?" 

lie tore the fluttering garment off the projection and 
held it up to the light. 

" My lady's Injy scarf!" 

No one knew who spoke — all recognized it. It was a 
little Cashmere shawl Lady Kingsl and often wore. An- 
other thrilling silence followed; then — 

" The Lord be merciful!" gasped a house-maid. *' She's 
been murdered, and we in our beds!" 

Sybilla Silver, leaning lightly against the railing, turned 
authoritatively to Edwards: 

" Take your master to his room, Edwards. It is no use 
of lingering here now; wo must wait until morning. Some 
awful deed has been done, but it may not bo my lady mur- 
dered." 

" How comes her shawl there, then?" asked the old 
butler. *' Why can't she be found in the house?" 

" 1 don't know. It is frightfully mysterious, but noth- 
ing more can be done to-night." 

" Can't there?" said the butler, who didn't like the young 
lady with the black eyes. '* Jackson and Fletcher will go 
to the village and get the police and search every inch of 
the park before daylight. The murderer can't be far 
away." 

Miss Silver bent a little over the rail to hide a sinister 
smile of derision. The spray dashed in her face — the 
waves beat half-way up the stone breast-work. 

" Probably not, Mr. Norris. Do as you please about 
the police, only if you ever wish your master to recover 
from that death-like swoon, you will carry him at once to 
the house and apply restoratives. " 

She turned away with her loftiest air of hauteur, and 
Miss Silver had always been haughty to the servants. 
More than one dark glance followed her now. 

" You're a hard one, yon are, if there ever was a hard 



THE baronet's HKIDE. 



;^09 



one!" said the butler. *' There's bceu no luck in the house 
«ince you first set foot in it." 

*' She always hutecl my lady," chimed in a fcnutle. 
*' It's my ojiinion she'll I more ghul than sorry if she is 
made away with. She wanted Sir Hvorard for herself.'* 

'* Hold your tongue, Susan!" angrily cried Edwards. 
"You daren't call your soul your own if Mias Silver was 
listening. Bear a hand here, you fellers, and helj) mo 
fetch Sir Heverard to the house.'" 

They bore the insensible man to the house, to his room, 
where Edwards applied himself to his recovery. Sybilla 
aided him silently, skillfully. Meantime, the two gigantic 
footmen were galloping like mad to the village to rouse 
the stagnant authorities with their awful news. And the 
servants remained huddled together, whispering in affright; 
then, in a body, proceeded to search the house from attic 
to cellar. 

" My lady may be somewhere in the house," somebody 
had suggested. " Who knows? Let us try." 

So they tried, and utterly failed, of course. 

Morning came at last. To the household at Kingsland 
that night of horror seemed a century long. Dull and 
dreary it came, drenched in rain, the wind wailing deso- 
lately over the dark, complaining sea. All was confusion, 
not only at the Court, but throughout the whole villa!^e. 
The terrible news had flown like wild-fire, electrifying all. 
People stood and stared at each other in mute horror. 
My lady was murdered! Who had done the deed? 

Very early in the wet and dismal morning. Miss Silver, 
braving the elements, wended her way to the Blue Bell Inn. 

Where was Mr. Parmalee? Gone, the landlady said, 
and gone for good, nobody knew where. 

Sybilla stood and stared at her incredulously. Gone, 
and without a word to her — gone without seeing the mur- 
dered woman! What did it mean? 

*' Are you sure he has really gone?" she asked. ** And 
how did he go?" 

" Sure as sure!" was the landlady's response; ** which 
he paid his bill to the last farthing, like a gentleman. And 
as lor how he went, I am sure I can't say, not being took 
in his confidence; but the elderly party, she went with him, 
and it was late last evening. ' ' 

Miss Silver was non^used, perplexed^ bewildered, and 



210 



THE BARONET'S BRIDE. 



IVH5 



•1 i 11 



i! i 



verj anxious. Whatdid Mr. Purmuloomeuu'' Where bad 
lie gone? Ho might spoil all yut. Siio liud corno to boo 
him, and accuso him of the murder — to frighten him, and 
maiio him lly tiio village. CirciimatanceK were strongly 
against him — his knowledge of her secret; his noeturnai 
appointment; her disappearance. Sybilhi did not doubt 
but that he would consider discretion the better part of 
Talor, and lly. 

{She went back to the house, intensely perj)lexed. There 
the confusion was at its height. The scubbard had boo* 
found near the terrace, with the baronet's initials thereon. 

Men looked into each other's blank faces, afraid to speak 
H»o frightful thoughts that filled their minds. 

And in his room Sir Everard lay in a deo]) stupor — it 
was not sleep. Sybilla, upon the the lirst faint signs of 
•onsciousness, had administered a powerful opiate. 

'* He must sleep," she said, resolutely, to Edwards. 
** It may save his life and his reason. He is utterly wora 
©ut, and every nerve in his body is strung to its utmost 
tension. Let him sleep, poor fellow!" 

Did one pang of human pity, of womanly compassioa, 
pierce that llinty heart for an instant as she gazed upon 
Jier work? 

He lay before her so death-like, so ghastly, so haggard, 
that the stoniest enemy might have relented — the pallid 
■hadow of the handsome, happy bridegroom of two short 
months ago. 

" I have kept my oath," she thought. '* I have wreaked 
the vengeance I have sworn. If 1 left him forever now, 
the manes of Zenith the gypsy might rest appeased. But 
the astrologer's prediction — ah! the work must goon to 
the appalling end." 

She hardened her heart resolutely, and went away to 
mingle with the agitated household, and assist in the 
search. 

Early in the afternoon arrived Lady Kingsland and Mil- 
dred, in a frighiiul state of excitement and horror. Har- 
riet murdered! The tragic story had been whispered 
through The Grange until it reached their ears, thrillkig 
them to the core of their hearts with terror. 

Miss Silver met them — calm, grave, inscrutable. 
I am afraid it is true," she said, " awfully incrediiaio 



t( 



Tin: i'akonkt's intTnn, 



211 



OM H scorns. Sir JOverunl fuiiitoil stono-iltuwl, my lady, at 
ai<^l»t of tho blood upon tho torauo." 

Sim ahiiildt'ivd n-i yho 8p ko, uml Liuly Kingalmul cov- 
ered luM" face in liorror. 

*' (h'o.it huiivenyl it id honiblcl 'iMiat unt'oi'tiuiuto ii'irl. 
Auil my soil, Svbillii, wlioro h I113?" 

*' Adlecp in his rt'Oin, my l.idv. I udinijiistorcd nw 
opiiitc. His \oyv life, I think, d;'jK'm1od f.n it. Ho mII! 
not jiwuk'j i')i- aouic l» 'ury. Do nrt di.stiiib him. Will 
you como up to your oM rooma uiul removu your thingti?" 

Thi\y r'>llowod her. 'Vhoy luul conio to .stay until tiiu uii- 
emiurablo Eurfponso was eudcd — to tako caro of tho son and 
brot hvA'. 

Lady Kiiiij^dliind wruiifr lior IuituIb in a paroxysm of moi- 
tal anpjui.sh in I ho Holiuulo of her own room. 

*' Oh, my (hull" sho ciiod, "hivo nuTcy and sparel 
My son, my son, my son! Would (J.id I might diu to sava 
you from tho wort'ij h '.iTuis to come!" 

All that dar, all tho noxt, and the next, and the next, 
the fruiilosa search for the murdered bride was made. All 
in vain; not tho faintest trace win* to he obtained. 

Sir Everani, rousing himself from his Ktupor of despair, 
threw hiniKolf body and soul into the search, with a lierco 
cnorgv that i)erliap3 eavod him from going mad with hor- 
ror and miserv and remorse. 

Mr. Patmaleu was searched for high and low. Immenso 
rewards were oU'ered for tho slightest trace of him — im- 
mense rowanls were (llered for the body of the murdered 
woman. In vain, ir vain! 

Had the earth opened ard swallowed them up, Mr. 
Parmaleo and the baronet's lost biido could not more com- 
pletely have vanish* d. 

And, meanv.'hile, d.irk, ominous whispers rose and cir- 
culated from mouth to mouth, by whom originated no one 
knew. Sir Everard's franiu; jealousy of Mr. Earmalee, his 
onslaught in tho pictuie-giillery, tho threats he had used 
again and again, overheard by so mmy, the oath he had 
sworn to tako her life if she ever met the American artisfc 
again, his ominrur, conduct that nigh!, Iw's rushing like a 
madman to th(^ place of tr} st, his returning covered with 
blood — white, wild, like one insane. Then the finding of 
the scabbard, marked with his inilitds, and his own words: 

'* Blood! Good (v i/d! i'. is hers; She is murdered!" 



1.1 



)i2 



Tin: I!.\i;<»m;t s iii;ii)i:. 



mil 

km 



Thn wlii.JpriH roKo ami f;rrw IoikIim- iiii"! Iniitlor; men 
loiikod in (liiik 8H.s]>ici(»M u[>"ii llin V'Mim;;" lord ol' Kiii^'s- 
Iiunl, jiiid sliriiiik l'r(>iu liiiii pulpubly. Uiil us yt'l. no oiiu 
wiM found to ()[vjnly ucc^uso liini. 

'.rowiird tlio (!lf)8i) of tlio s(M.'.f)nd wcnk, a body wuh w.wliod 
aalioro, saino miles down tlio cousl, and the uutlioriLiiiH 
tli(Mo siL,Miili(Hl lo \\w uuthoritius ol* Worrel tliut tho corpw 
iniiJ^hL 1)1! tho tnisHiiij; ludy. 

Sir i'lviTiird, his inr»lhcr, and Mii-'s Silver wont at once. 
Jhit the 8if;;ht WJia too honiblo to ])o twico looked at. I'lvory 
giirniont had bi-on washed away, and tho J'aoo and head 
were BO mid:ilatcd that identiilcuticii by iuean>s of tho 
I'oaturoa wa3 impossible. 

lint tho height correspnnded, and ho did the lont,^ wavca 
of llowing hair, and Sybilla Silver, tlio oidyono with norvo 
enou;i;h to glance again, })r(>noimecd it emphatically to bo 
the body of Jlarriet, Lady Kingsland. 

Thoro was to boa verdict, and tho trio remained; and 
bivto.ie it commenced, tho celcbra.t,cd deled ive from Scot- 
land Yard, emplo3'ed from iho llr«t by Sir Everaid, a]»- 
peared upon the scene with crushing new.-'. ]Io held up a 
bh'od-atained dagger, of curious make and workmanshij), 
before the eye of the baronet. 

" Do you know this little weapon, Sir Mverard?'' 

Sir Everard looked at it juid recgnized it at once. 

'' It is mine," he replied. " I iturchased it last year in 
Paris. My initials arc u])on it." 

" So 1 t^ee," was the dry response. 

** llow comes it hero? Where did you find it?" 

The detective eyed him narrowly, almosit amazed at hU 
coolness, 

" I found it in a very (|ucer place. Sir J^vorard — lodgr-d 
in the branches of an elm-tree, not far frtm the stone ti'i- 
race. It's a miracle it was ever f "und. I think this lilLl.i 
weapon did the deed. I'Jl go and have a look at the body.^' 

lie went. Yes, there in the region of tlie heart was a 
gaping wound. Jjut the sea had op(3ned it, and tho ilesli 
was so gnawed ii.way that it seemed impossible to tell 
whether the death-blow had been given by that slender 
knife. 

The inquest came on; tho facts came out — mysteriously 
wliispered before, spoken aloud now. And for the first 



Tin: r.Ai;()Ni;Ts i.i:ii»t:. 



213 



.t:I ii.nl 



tiino llif IriilJi (Liwiud <iii tlio sliiimcd Iwiroiiet — lio was 
aii.spocU'il of llio imiitliT of tlio \\\Ui liu lovod! 

'IMio rovoUiiii^f atrtM^il.y, llio iiiitmUinil liDiTor of tli(i 
cliar'^^o, Tinrvcul him iu\ notliiii^ elso coiilil liavo tloiie. lli.s 
]talo, proud I'auo f^'row rigid as stom;; his hliii; vyva llat-hud 
Ht-oiuriil do(i;i.ii(;o; hi.s head n;ared itsoU' hauifiitilv ah'ft. 
\\i>\v d.'im (lioy a(!«!ii;-ii liiiii of sd iiK-nytroiiH a criiiio*:' 

l»ut tho ciicimiHtanlial ovidi-Mco was crushing. S}hilia 
i'SiIv( r's evidcuico uh>iai wonki liavo dmiiiu'd him. 

Sho gavo it wiUi ovidoiiL rt'liiclancr; huL givu it slm did 
M'lth frightful for»!e, and tlio hoioaved y.^uiig liush;iiiil stood 
sluiinc'd at the tnrrihio strength of the ca-i; sho m:ide ouf. 

I'lvorythlng tohl against him. Jlis vi'ry cagcrnivsH to limi 
tho murderer seemed hut throwing du;t in Ihtjireyts. IS'ot 
a doid)t lingered in the minds of the coronru- or his jiny, 
and hefore simset tliiit day Sir Mverard Kingshuid was en 
Ids way to Worr(d .fail to s(and id.i trial at the (Ktmiiig 
assizes for tho willful murder of Harriet, his wife. 



CIIArTEU A'XX. 

MIRR SIJ.VKli ON OATir. 

The day of trial came. Tjr>ng, miscrahlo weeks cf wait 
ing — weeks of anguish ajid remorse and despair had gnnc. 
heforo, and Sir Everaril Kingsland emerged from his cell 
to take Ids jilace in tho criminal dock and ho tried for his 
life for the greatest crime man can commit. 

What he had endured in those weeks of anguish (lod and 
himself only knew. Outwardly those who saw him heheld 
a rigid, death-like face, with lines plowed deep, that half a 
century of happiness could never remove. 

I>ut he came of a proud and daring race, and hia harid- 
somo head reared itself aloft, and his great. Hashing hluo 
r'M's looked straight into the eyes of his fellow-uieu, as 
■_juilt never looked in this world. 

The court-house was crowded to suiTooatiun — there was 
not even standing room. The long gidlery was one living 
semicircle of eyes; ladies, in gleaniing silks and lluttering 
plumes, thronged as to the 0[)era, and slender throats were 
craned, and bright eyes glanced eagerly to catch one fleet- 
ing glimpse of tlio pale prisoner — a haronet who had mur- 
dered his bride before tin.' honey-moon was well over. 



i 



■ 



r. 



|i|'- 



»; 



ii I 

1 1 



'^ii 



THE BARONET S BRIDB. 



And away in Kingsland Court two ghastly white women 
kadt in agonised supplication for the son and brother 
fekey loved. 

The case was opened in a long and eloquent speech by 
the counsel for the crown, setting forth the enormity of 
the crime, citing a hundred incidents of the horrible and 
unnatural deeds jealousy had made men commit, from the 
days of the first murderer. 

His address was listened to in profoundest silence. The 
(Aiarge he made out was a terribly strong one, and when 
he sat down and the first witness was called the hearts of 
Sir Everard Kingsland 's friends sunk like lead. 

He pleaded *' Not guilty!** with an eye that flashed and 
a voice which rang, and a look in his pale, proud face that 
no murderer's face ever wore on this earth, and with thos« 
two words he had carried conviction to many a doubter. 

But men wavered like reeds. His word was poor and 
weak against the thrilling eloquence of one of the first 
wriminal lawyers in the realm. 

•' Call Sybilla Silver." 

All in black — in trailing crape and sables, tall, stately, 
and dignified as a young duchess — Sybilla Silver obeyed 
the call. 

She was deeply veiled at first, and when she threw back 
the heavy black veil, and the dark, bright, beautiful face 
looked full at judge and jury, a low murmur thrilled 
through the throng. 

Those who saw her for the first time stared in wonder 
aad admiration at the tall young woman in black, with the 
face and air of an Indian queen, and those to whom she 
was known thought that Miss Silver had never, since they 
saw her first, looked half as handsome as she did this day. 

Her brilliant bloom of color was gone; she was interest- 
singly pale, and her great black eyes were unnaturally deep 
and mournful. 

** Your name is Sybilla Silver, and you reside at Kings- 
land Court. May we ask in what character — as friend or 
domestic?** 

** As both. Sir Everard Kingsland has been my friend 
atd benefactor from the first. 1 have been treated as a 
confidential friend both by him and his mother." 

•* By the deceased Lady Kingsland also, I conclude?*' 

" I was m. the late Ladv Kin^»iaiid*s coufideuoe— yes.'^' 



THE BAROKEl'8 BKIDB. 



au 



** Yon were the last who saw her alive on the night of 
Ifaroh tenth — the night of the murder?'* 

**Iwas.'' 

*' Where did you part from her?" 

** At her own chamber door. We bade eadi other good- 
night, and I retired to rest immediately." 

" What hour was that?" 

** About ten minutes before eleven." 

" What communication were you making to Lady Kingi- 
land at that hour?" 

*' I came to tell her the household had all retired — that 
she could quit iihe house unobserved whenever she chose. " 

** You knew, then, that she had an assignation for that 
night?" 

*' 1 did. It was I who brought her the message, ^e 
was to meet Mr. Parmalee at midnight, on the stone ter- 



yf 



^' 



race. 

" Who was this Mr. Parmalee?" 

** An American gentleman — a traveling photogr&pUo 
artist, between whom and my lady a secret existed.'* 

** A secret unknown to her husband?" 

"Yes." 

** And this secret was the cause of their mysterious mid- 
nigh^- meeting?" 

** It was. Mr. Parmalee dare not come to the house. 
Sir Everard had driven him forth with blows and abuse, 
and forbidden him to enter the grounds. My lady kne^ 
this, and was forced to meet him by stealth." 

** Where was Sir Everard on this night?" 

*' At a military dinner given by Major Morrell, here in 
Worrel." 

** What time did he return to Kingsland Court?" 

•* At half past eleven, as nearly a" I can judge. 1 did 
i>iot see him for some ten or fifteen minutes after; then 
Claudine, my lady's maid, came and aroused me — said Sir 
Everard was in my lady's dressing-room and wished to see 
me at once." 

** You went?" 

** I went immediately. I found Sir Everard in a state 
of passionate fury no words can describe. By some means 
he Lad learned of the assignation; through an anonymous 
note left upon his dressing-table, he said. 

** Did you see this nofce?^ 



' 



t 



1 



iM I; 



■;i 



1 1 



216 



THE BAKONETS BKIDE. 



" I did not. 



He had none in his hand, nor have 1 seen 
any smoe. '* 

** What did the prisoner say to you?" 

*' He asked me where was his wife — ho insisted that 1 
knew. He demanded an answer in such a way I dared not 
disobey. " 

" You told him?" 

** I did. ' Is she with him !' he said, grasping my arm, 
and I answered, * Yes. * " 

"And then?" 

" He asked me, ' Where?' and I told him; and he flung 
me from him, like a madman, and rushed out of the house, 
swearing, in an awful voice, ' I'll have their hearts' 
bloodl' " 

*' Was it the first time you ever heard him threaten liis 
wife's life?" 

" No; the second. Once before 1 heard him siiy to her, 
at the close of a dreadful quarrel, ' If ever you meet that 
man again, I'll murder you, by the living Lord!' " 

" What was the cause of the quarrel?" 

*' She had met Mr. Parmalee, by night and by stealth, 
m Sir Everard's absence, in tlie IBeech Walk. " 

'* And he discovered it?" 

** He did. Edwards, his valet, had gone out with mo 
to look for some article I had lost, and by chance wc came 
upon them. We saw her give him money; we saw her 
dreadfully frightened; and when Edwards met his master 
again his face betrayed him — we had to tell him all." 

*' Did any one hear the prisoner use those words, * I'll 
have their hearts' blood!' on the night of the murder, but 
yourself?" 

" Yes; Edwards, his valet, and Claudihe, the lady's- 
maid. We crouched together in the hall, frightened 
almost to death. " 

" When did the prisoner reappear?" 

*' In little over half an hour. He rushed in in the same 
wild way he had rushed out — like a man gone mad." 

" What did he say?" 

** He shouted, ' It is false — a false, devilish slander! 
(She is not there!' " 

'' Well-and then?" 

*' And then Claudine shrieked aloud and pointed to hie 
hands. They were dripping wif-li hloodl" 



THE baronet's bride. 



217 



i»» 



** Did he attempt any exi>lanation?' 

** Not then. His first words were, as if he spoke in 

spite of himself: * Blood! blood! Good God, it is hers! 

Did he after- 



She is murdered!' " 

** You say he offered no explanation then. 
ward?" 

** 1 believe so. Not to me, but to others. He said hi» 
foot slipped on the stone terrace, and his hand splashed in 
a 230ol of something — his wife's blood.''' 

" Can you relate what followed?" 

** There was the wildest confusion. Claudiue fainted. 
Sir Everard shouted for lights and men. ' There lias been 
a horrible murder done,' he said. ' Fetch lights and fol- 
low me!' and then we all rushed to the stone terrace." 

" And there you saw — what?" 

*' Nothing but blood. It was stained and clotted with 
blood everywhere; and so was tlie railing, as though a 
bleeding body hiid been cast over into tiio p u. On a ])ro- 
jecting spike, as thougli torn off in the fall, we found my 
lady's India scarf." 

'* You think, then, he cast the body over after the deed 
was done?" 

*' I am morally certain he did. There was no other way 
of disjjosing of H. The tide was at flood, the current 
strong, and it was swept away at once." 

" What was the prisoner's conduct on the terrace?'-' 

** He fainted stone-dead before he was there five min- 
utes. They had to carry him lifeless to the house." 

** Was it not on that occasion the scabbard marked with 
his initials was discovered?" 

" It was. One of the men picked it up. The dagger 
hidden in the elm-tree was found by the detective later." 

'* You recognized them both? You had seen them be- 
fore in the possession of the prisoner?" 

*' Often. He brought the dagger from Paris. It used 
to lie on his dressing-table." 

*' Where he said he found the anonymous note?" 

"Yes." 

*' Now, Miss Silver," said the prosecuting attorney, 
** from what you said at the inquest and from what you 
have let drop to-day, I infer that my lady's secret was no 
secret to you. Am I nu:[\t?'* 



' it 



\ 



1 



i : ( 
i 



M 






If: ' 



u 

'It 



f.\ 



I ' 
'' 



218 



THE BARONET'S BRIDE. 



There was a momentary hesitation — a rising flush, n 
drooping of the brilliant eyes, then Miss Silver replied s 

"Yes." 

" How did yon learn it?" 

*' Mr. Parmalee himself told me." 

" You were Mr. Parmalee 's intimate friend, then, Jl ap- 
pears?'* 

"Y^-e-a" 

" Was he only a friend? He was a young man, and an 
unmarried one, as I am given to understand, and you, 
Miss Silver, are — pardon my boldness — a very handsome 
young lady." 

Miss Silver's handsome face drooped lower. She made 
no reply. 

" Answer, if you please," blandly insinuated the law- 
yer. " You have given your evidence hitherto with most 
wnfeminine and admirable straightforwardness. Don't let 
us have a hitch now. Was this Mr. Parmalee a sukor «f 
yours?" 

"He was." 

" An accepted one, I take it?" 

"Y-e-e-s." 

*' And you know nothing now of his whereabouts? That 
is strange. " 

"It is strange, but no less true than strange. I have 
never seen or heard of Mr. Parmalee since the af ternoen 
preceding that fatal night." 

" flov/ did you see him then?" 

" Ho had been up to London for a couple of days oa. 
business connected with my lady; he had returned that 
afternoon with another person; he sent for mo to inform 
my lady. I met and spoke to him on the street, just be- 
yond the Blue Bell Jnn." 

" What had he to say to you?" 

" Very little. He told mc to tell my lady to meet him 
precisely at midnight, on the sii>ne terrace. Before mid- 
night the murder was done. What became of him, why 
he did not keep his appointment, 1 do not know. Ho lof*. 
the inn very late, paid his score, and has never been Been 
or heard of since. 

" Had he any interest in Lady Kingsland's death?" 

" On the contrary, all his interest lay in her rerajtfDiiig 
alive. While she lived, he held a secret which she inteodocl 



'i^' 



THE r,AEONET R TIRIDK. 



21? 



ap- 



w pay him well to kcop. Her death blights all his pGciiEk- 
nry pro3i)octs, and Mr. Parrnaleo loved money/' 

" Miss Silver, who was the fomaio who accompanied Mr, 
Parmaloo from London, and who rpiitted the iUue Bell Inn 
with him late on the night of tlie tenth?" 

Again Sybilla hesitatedj looked down, and seemed oon- 
fused. 

" It is not necessary, is it?'* said she, ploadinri^ly. ** I 
had rather not tell. It—it is connected with tiie secret, 
atid I am bound by a promise — " 

" Which I think we must persuade you to bi-eak,** in- 
terrupted the debonair attorney. " I tliink this secret will 
throw a light on tlie matter, and wo must have it. Ex> 
treme cases require extreme measures, my dear yoimg 
lady. Throw aside your honorable scruples, break your 
promise, and tell us tiiis secret whicli has caused a mur- 
der." 

Sybilla Silver looked from judge to Jury, from counael 
to counsel, and clasped her hands. 

** Bon't ask mel she cried — " oh, pray, don't ask mo 
to tell this!" 

" But we must — it is essential- 
Silver. Come, take courage. It 
you know—the poor lady is dead, 
into the heart of it at once — tell 
terious lady with Mr. Parmaleo?" 

The hour of Sybilla's tri!imph had come. She lifted her 
black eyes, glittering with livid flame, and shot a quick, 
sidelong glance at the prisoner. Awfully white, awfully 
calm, he sat like a man of stone, awaiting to hear what 
would cost him his life. 

" Who was she?" the lawyer repeated. 

Sybilla turned toward him and answered, in a voice 
plainly audible the length and breadth of the long room: 

'" She called herself Mrs. Denover. Mr. Parmalee called 
her his sister. Both were false. She was Captain Harold 
Hunsden's divorced wifcj, Lady Kingsland'o mother, and a 
lofifc, degraded outca?*'!" 



-we must have it. Miss 
can do no harm now. 
And first—to plunge 
us who was the mys- 



m 



■f ' 



)d30 



THE baronet's imiDB, 



! I 



I! i 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

FOUND GUILTY. 

There was the silence of death. Men looked blankly 
in each other's faces, then at the prisoner. With an 
awfully corpse-like face, and wild, dilated eyes, ho sat 
staring at the witness — struck dumb. 

The silence was broken by the lawyer. Even he, for an 
instant, had sat petrified. 

" This is a very extraordinary statement, Miss Silver,'' 
he said. " Are you quite certain of its truth? It is an 
understood thing that the late Caj)tain Hunsden was a 
widower. ' ' 

" He was nothing of the sort. It suited his purpose to 
be thought so. Captain Hunsden was a very proud man. 
It is scarcely likely he would announce his bitter shame to 
the world." 

" And his daughter was cognizant of these facts?" 

'* Only from the night of her father's death. On that 
njght he revealed to her the truth, under a solemn oath of 
secrecy. Previous to that she had believed her mother 
dead. That death-bed oath was the cause of all the trouble 
between Sir Everard and his wife. Lady Kingsland would 
have died rather than break it. " 

She glanced again — swift, keen, sidelong, a glance of 
diabolical triumph — at the prisoner. But he did not see it 
— he might have been stone-blind — he only heard the 
words — the words that seemed burning to the core of his 
heart. 

This, then, was the secret, and the wife he had loved and 
doubted and scorned had been true to him as truth itself; 
and now he knew her worth and purity and high honor 
when it was too late. 

" How came Mr. Parmalee to be possessed of the secret? 
Was he a relative?" 

"No. He learned the story by the merest accident. 
He left New York for England in his professional capacity 
as photographic artist, on speculation. On board the 
steamer was a woman — a steerage passenger — poor, ill, 
friendless, and alo?ie. Tie had a kindly heart, it appears, 
under his passioji for money-making, and when this worn- 



THE BAllOA^KT'S DJUDri:. 



321 



iklv 
an 

sat 



)y 



an --this Mrs. Dciiovcr- roll ill, ho nnrKctl "fidr n,s jv son 
might Ono iiij,'ht, vviien she thouglifc horsclt' dyiiif;, sh« 
caliod hi:>\ to hiiv bcd.jjdo and told him hor story/' 



rji 



Tho duad silence of tho crowded court-room seemed to 
deepen. Yon miglit have heard a pin drop. 

Clear and sweet Sybilla Silver^s voice rang fi'om end to 
end, each word cutting mercilessly through tho unhap})y 
prisoner's very soul. 

" llor maiden name had been Maria Denover, and she 
was a native of. ISfew York City. At the ago of eighto<'r. 
an Engli.sh ollicer met her while on a visit to Niagara, felt 
desperately in love with hor, and married her out of jiand. 

" Even at that early ago she Wiis utterly lost and aban- 
doned; and she only married Captain Hunsden in a tit of 
?j)i'.(l desperation and rage because John Thorndyke, her 
lovor, scornfidly refused to make her his wife. 

" (Japbain liunsden took her witli him to Gibraltar, 
where his regiment was stationed, serenely unconscious of 
his terrible disgrace. One year after a daughter was born, 
but neither husband nor child could win this woman from 
the jnan ;'he passionately loved, and who had wronged her 
beyond reparation. 

" She urged her husband to take her back to New York 
to see her friends; she jileaded with a vehemence he could 
not resist, and in an evil hour he obeyed. 

" Again she met her lover. Three weeks after tho 
wronged husband and all the world knew the revolting 
story of her degradation. She had fled with Thorndyke.'' 

Sybilla paused to let her words tuko effect. Then she 
Glowly went on: 

" There was a divorce, of cours'j; tho matter was hushed 
np as much as possible, for the abandoned woman's friends 
were wealthy. Captain Hunsden went back to his regi- 
ment a disgraced and broken-hearted man. 

" Two years after he sailed for England, but not to re- 
main. How he wandered over the world, his daughter ac- 
companying him, from that time until, ucjjrly two years 
ago, he returned to Hunsden Hall, every ono knows. But 
during all that time he never heard one word of or from 
his lost wife. 

" She remained with Thorndyke — half starved, brutally 
beaten, horribly ill-used — tauntid from the first by him, 
and hated at the last. But she clung to him through all^ 



: 



222 



THE IJAIlOiSKIB LIUDE. 



as women do cliug; sho liail ftivou up Iho uliulo world for 
[lis sako; alio must bear Im ubuso to the end. And she 
did, heroically. 

"He died — etabbod in a drunken brawl — died with her 
kneeling by his side, and his IuhL word an oath. JIo died 
and was buried, and she was alouj in the world— heart- 
broken, health-broken — as miserable a woman as tiie W'.Jo 
earth ever held. 

"One wish alone lived and v as stioiig within her — to 
look again upon her child before ^i.e died. She had no 
wish to speak to her, to reveal hersilf, only to look once 
more upon her face, then lie down by the road-side and 
iie. 

" She knew sho was mari'itd and livii;;.', luuv; 1'horndyke 
liftd maliciously kept her an t'al^ oi' h.r liiir^biui;! and child. 
Sho sold all she possessed but (he rii>;s upon hir back, and 
took a steerage ])assage for England. 

" That was the story she told Mr. Parmulee. ' You 
will go to Devonshire,' she said to liini; ' you will see my 
child. Tell her I died hiinibly praying iiri- forgiveness. 
She is rich; she will reward you.' 

** Mr. Parmalee immediately made up his mind that this 
sick woman, who had a daughter ilie wii'o of a wealthy 
baroj<iet, was a great deal too valu-dde, in a pecuniary 
lighoj to be allowed ' to go olf the hooks,' as lie exjn'essed 
it, tlkus easily. 

" ile pooh-poohod tho notion of licr dyitig, cheered her 
np, narsed her assiduously, and iinally brought iier around. 
He loft her in London, jiostcd down lure, and remained 
here until the return of Sir J.<]vera.rd and my lady from 
their honey-moon trip. The dny after he [utit-ented him- 
self to them — displayed his piciurey, and among others 
showed my lady her mother's portrait, taken at the time 
of her marriage. She recognized it at on';e — her father 
had left her its counterpart on the night he died. He 
knew her secret, and she had to meet him if he chose. Ho 
threatened to tell Sir Everard clhc, and the thought of her 
husband ever discovering her mother's liliame was agony 
to her. She knew how [)ioud he was, how proud his moth- 
er was, and she would hfive died to save him pair. And 
that is why she met Mr. rarmaleo by night and by stealth 
— why she gave liim money — why all thti horrors that have 
followed oucurredo'^ 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



233 



Onoe more the cruol, clear, uiifrtlteriup; voice paused. A 
£;roan broke tlio eilouco — u groan of such unutterable an- 
guish and despair from the tortured husband tiiat ovary 
heart thrilled to hear it. 

With that agonized groan, his face dropped in his hands, 
and ho never raised it again, lie heard no more--he sat 
bowed, paralyzed, criisheil witli misery and remorse. His 
wife — his lost wife — had been as pure and stainless n^:. the 
angels, and ho— oh, pitiful God! how merciless ho had 
been! 

Sybilla Silver was dismissed ; other witnesses were ciilled. 
Edwards and Claudine were the only ones examined that 
day, Sybilla had occupied the court so long. They cor- 
roborated all she had said. The prisoner was remanded, 
and the court adjourned. 

The night of agony which followed to the wretched pris- 
oner no words can ever tell. All he had sulTored hitherto 
seemed as nothing. Men recoiled in horror at the ^iglit of 
him next day; it was as if a galvanized corpse had entered 
the court-room. 

He sat in dumb misery, neither heeding nor hearing. 
The talk of witnesses and lawyers was as the empty babble 
of a brook. Only once was his attention dimly aroused to 
a sort of wondering bewilderment. It was at the evidence 
ot a boy — a ragged youth of some fifteen years, who gave 
his name as Bob Dawson, and his evidence with a very 
white and scared face. 

*' He had been out lat3on that 'ere night;" he admitted 
the fact with grimy tears. *' Yes, if his wurship must 
know, a-wirin' of rabbits, which he didn't catch none, so 
he 'oped, their ludships wouldn't send him hup for it. It 
was between ten and eleven — couldn't be 'spected to tell 
to a second — that ho was a-dodgin' round near the stone 
terrace. Then he sees a lady a-waitin*, which the moon 
was shining on her face, and he knowed my lady herself. 
He dodged more than hever at the sight, and pecked round 
a tree. Just then came along a tall gent in a cloak, like 
Sir Everard wears, and my lady screeches out at sight of 
him. Sir Everard, he spoke in a deep, 'orrid voice, and 
the words were so hawful, he — Bob Dawson — remembered 
them from that day to this. 

1 sv/ore by the Lord v/ho made me 1 would murda' 



*( i 



•i'H 



324 



TIIH HARONF,T'f« lUtlDE. 



yon if yon over met tlnit man a^^jiin. False wife, accurfled 
ti'iiit-orcs.s, uv'vt yonr doom!* 

" And iJion my huly scroochos out again unci says to him 
— hIk! KiiVH: 

*''IIavu in(;r(3y! 1 am innocent, Iloverard! Oh, for 
(Joil'.s .siikc, do not mnrdor mo!' 

" And Sir ilovorard, ho says, fierce and 'orrid: 

" ' Wiotiih, die! You are not lit to poHute the hearth! 
do to your grave with my 'ate and my cussi' 

" And then/' cried JJob Dawson, trembling all over as 
ho told it, " I see him lift that there knife, gentlemen, 
and atal) her with all his might, and she fell back with a 
sort of groan, and he lifts her up anil jtitches of her over 
liln'^o the soa. And then ho cuts, lie does, and 1 — I was 
friglitened most hawful, and 1 cut, too.'' 

A murmur of horror ran through the court. No ono 
doubted longer. 

" Why did you not tell this before?" the judge asked, 
sternly. 

" 'Cos I was scared — I was," Bob replied, in tears. " I 
didn't knovv but that they might took and hang me for 
seeing it. 1 told mammy the other night, and mammy 
she came and told the gent there," pointing ono stubby 
index finger at the learned counsel for the crown, " and 
he said I must come and tell it here; and that's all I've 
got to tell, and I'm werry sorry as hover I seed it, and it's 
all true, s'help me!" 

The lad was rigidly cross-examined, but he stnck to his 
statement with many tears and protestations. 

Sybilla Silver's eyes fairly blazed with triumphant fire. 
Iler master, the arch-fiend, seemed visibly coming to her 
aid; And the most miserable baronet pressed his hand to 
his throbbing head. 

" Am 1 going mad?" he thought. '* Did 1 really mur- 
der my wife?" 

There was the summing up of the evidence — one damn- 
ing mass against the prisoner. There was the judge's 
charge to the jury. Sir Everard heard no words — saw 
nothing. He fell into a stunned stupor that was indeed 
like madness. 

The jury retired — vaguely he saw them go. They re- 
turned. Was it minutes or hours they had been gone? 
11 is dulled eyes 'ooked at them expressionless. 



^cursed 
to him 
)h, for 

hearth! 

over as 

lemen, 

with ii 

lier over 

— 1 was 

No one 

; askei], 

rs. "I 
me for 
iiiiimmy 
) stubby 
I, " ami 
all I've 
ami it's 

ik to his 

ant fire. 
f to her 
haml to 

lly mur- 

G damn- 
judge's 
ds — saw 
,s indeed 

riiey ro- 
n gone? 



THE HAIIOJSKT S UKIDl'), 



225 



** How say you, goiitlemon of the jury— guilty or not 
guilty?" 



Guilty!" 
Amid (lead silence 



the word fell. Every heart thrilled 



with awe but one. The condemned man sat staring at 
them with an awful, dull, glazed stare. 

The juilge arose and put on liis black cap, his face 
white, his li])3 trembling. ]Ie had known Sir Everard 
Kingsland from boyhood — a little curly-haired, blue-eyeil, 
Jiandsome boy. liut those blue eyes looked at him now, 
seejug, yet sightless — the dulled ears not taking in tho 
«ensu of a syllable. 

Otdy the last words seemed to strike him — to crash into 
his v/hirling brain with a noise like thunder. The long, 
pitying achlross was lost, but he hoard those last words: 

" And that there you be hanged by tho neck until dead, 
and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul!" 

He sat down. Tho awful silence was something indc- 
S(3ribable. One or two women in the gallery fainteil, then 
the hush was broken in a blood-curdling manner. 

With the shriek of a madman, Sir Evorard Kingsland 
threw up both arms and fell face forward. They raised 
him up. Agonized nature had given way — ho was writh- 
ing in the horrors of an epileptic fit. 



CHAPTER XXXH. 

S Y B I L L A ' S T 11 I U »[ P H . 

It was the night before the execution. In his feebly 
lighted cell tho condemned man sat alone, trying to read 
by the palely glimmering lamp. Tho Kew Testament lay 
open before him, and on this, the last night of his life, he 
was reading the mournful story of Gethsemane and Cal- 
vary. On his pale, high-brod face sat a look of unutter- 
able calm, of unearthly peace. Earth and the things of 
the earth — love, ambition, splendor, and all the glories of 
the lower world— had rolled away, and eternity, mighty 
and inconceivable, was opening before him. On this last 
night heart and soul were at rest, and an infinite calm, that 
seemed not of this world, ilJumimid every feature. 

Weeks had i)assi'il since tho diiy when sentence of death 
had been pronounced upon him, and the condemned man 

8 



X 



2ie6 



TUK IIAIIONKT'S lUlIDK 



[I .if 

lili 






imd Iain touHJn^ and burning' in tlic wild doliriuni of brairi 
lovur. J)ay8 and weulvs lio luid luin hovorinf^ botweon lifo 
and (lejitli. nursuii witli .sluojtloss caro, lus iondurly nour- 
iwht'd as if a lotj;^' iil'o lay boforo him. 

Sybilla Silvor had been his most sleepless, his most de- 
voted attendant. Her evidence had wrung his heart — had 
eondenuiL'il him to the most shameful death man can die; 
but .she had only told the truth, and truth is mighty and 
will j»revail. So she came and nursed him noiv', for^ettin^ 
to eat or slee}) iu her zeul and devotioi>, and finally wooed 
him back to life and reason, while those who loved him best 
])rayeil (lod, by night and by day, that he might die. 
Slowly but surely life returned, and he rose from his bed 
at last, the pallid shadow of liis former self, to endure the 
extreme penalty of tlie law. 

Ihit, while hovering in tlio " Valley of the Shadow/' 
death had lost all its terror for him — he rose a changed 
man. A zealous clergyman had sat daily by his bedside, 
and the light of this world waxed ^'ery dim as seen by the 
light of heaven. 

" And she is there,'* lie said, with his eyes fixed dream- 
ily on the one j^ateh of blue May sky ho could see between 
his prison bars — " my wronged, my murdered, my beloved 
wife I Ah, yes, death is the highest boon the judges of 
this world can give me now!'* 

And so the last night came. He sat alone. Tho jailor 
who was to share his cell on this last, awful vigil had been 
bribed to leave him by himself until the latest moment. 

'* Come in before midnight/' ho said, smiling slightly, 
*' and guard me while I sleep, if you wish. Until then, 
I should like to be left quite alone. *' 

And tho man obeyed, awed unutterably by the sublimo 
look of that marble face. 

" lie never did it," he said to his wife. " No murderor 
ever looked with such clear eyes and such a sweet smiie as 
that. Sir Everard Kingsland is as hinnocent as a hangel, 
and there'll be a legal murder done to-morrow. I wish 
it was that she-devil that swore his life away instead. I'd 
turn her off myself with the greatest pleasure." 

As if his thoughts had evoked her, a tall dark fignro 
stood before him — Miss Sybilla Silver herself. 

"Good Lord!" cried the jailer, aghast; '* wWd «- 
thomght it? What do you want?'^ 



THE baronet's DUIPK. 



2t7 



brain 

on lifo 

nour- 

oat do- 
t— hull 
an tlio; 
ity and 

wooed 
im best 
ht die. 
his bed 
.uro the 

adow/' 
changed 
bedside, 
1 by the 

L dream- 
between 
beloved 
iidges of 

ho jailer 
bad been 
niont. 
slightly, 
itil then, 

) subUmo 

murderor 
t smile as 
a hangel, 
r. I wish 
«ad. rd 

irk figaro 



"To BOO the prifloner," responded the swroot voice ot 
Sybil la. 

" Voii can't see hirn, then,'* said the jailor, gnittty, 
'* JIi' ain't going to see anyhoily Miis iant night, ma'am." 

" Mr. Markhani " — sho cmu) over and laid her velvet 
\)i\,\v on ills arm, and niugneli/ed him wilii her big black 
r-yes — " think better of it. It is his last night, llis mother 
lies on tiu* ]toiiit of death. I come hero with a last sacred 
messitge from a dying mother to a dying son. Yoii have 
ail aged mother yourself, Mr. Markham. Ah! think 
agjiin, and don't bo hard upon ns." 

A sovereign slipped into his j)alm. Whether it was tho 
delicious thrill of the gold, or tho magic of that honeyed 
voicic, oi the mesmerism of those velvet-black eyes, or tho 
siren spell of that beautiful face, who can toll? 13ut the 
stern warden knocked under at once. 

" For only half an hour, then," ho said; '* mind that 
Como along!" 

Tho key clanked; tho door swung back. The pale 
prisoner lifted his sorono eyos^ tho tall, dark figure stepped 
m. 

"Sybilla!" 

*' Yes, Sir Kverard." 

The ^rcit (k»or closed with a bang. 

" Half an hour, mind," reiterated the jailer. 

Tho Key turned; they were alone together within those 
massive walls. 

" 1 thought wo parted yesterday for the last time in 
this lower world," said the oaronet, calmly. 

" Did you? You were mistaken, then. We meet again 
and part again forever to-night, for the last time in this 
lower world, or that upper one either, in which you be - 
lievo, and which I know to be a very pretty little fable, 
made for priests to fool credulous cowards." 

She laughed a low, derisive laugh, and came up close to 
him. He shut his book, and looked at her in wonder. 
Was this tho Sybilla Silver he had known for two years— 
the mild and submissive Sybilla? 

Her black eyes were literally blazing, her swarthy cheeks 
were burning red, her whole dusky face irradiated with a 
glow that might have been borrowed from the infernal re- 
gions. But he sat and looked at her unmoved — only won- 
derkig. 



I 



r>!i{8 



THK baronet's imiDE. 



■i . I 



il;, .')f V 



" WIml, <lo vou mean? Wliy have you oomii hither to- 
night-' Why iU) you look like tliut? What is it all?'' 
"It is this!" Siic iliinjr up licr unns with a strange, 



wild iii.^sture. 



Thiit tlio mask worn two 



long 



years is 



jib'^iit to be torn oIL It moans tliat you are to liear the 
truth; it means that the ]Hirpoao of my lii'e is fullilled; it 
means tiiat the hour of my triumph has come." 

lie sat and looked at her, lost in wonder. 

*' You do not speak — you sit and stare as though you 
could not believe your eyea or ears. It is hard to believe, 
I know — the humble, the meek Sybilla metamorphosed 
thus. But the Sybilla Silver you knew vras a mockery and 
a delusion. Behold the real one, for the first time in your 
life!" 

" Woman, who arc you? What arc you?" 

*' I am the granddaughter of Zenith the gypsy, the 
woman your father wronged to the death, and your bitter- 
est enemy. Sir Everard Kingsland!" 

He gazed at her, speechless — struck dumb. 

" The granddaughter of Zenith tlie gypsy?" he re- 
peated, in bewilderment. " Then Sybilla Silver is not 
your name?" 

*' The name is as false as the cliaracter in which she 
showetl lierself — that of vour friend." 

*' And yet," the young man said, in a tone infinitely ten- 
der, " the first time we met you saved my life." 

*' No thanks for that. I did not know yoii^ tfiough if I 
had 1 would have saved it, all the same. That was not 
the death you were to die. ] saved you for the gallows. " 

'' Sybilla, Sybilla!" 

*' I saved you for the gallows!" she fiercely repeated. 
'* I come here to-night to tell you the truth, and you shall 
hear it. Did I not swear your life away? Did I not nurse 
you back from the very jaws of death? All for what? 
That the astrologer's prediction might be fulfilled — that 
the heir of Kingsland Court might die a felon's death on 
the scaffold!" 

" The astrologer's pretlicticn?" he cried, catching some 
of her excitement. " What do yor. know about that?" 

*' Everything — everything!" she exclaimed, exultingly. 
** Far more than you do, for you only know such a thing 
exists — you know nothing of its contents. Oh, no! mamma 
guarded her darlhig boy too caretully for that, notwith' 



IHE BAKONET'S bride. 



239 



ther to- 

years is 
liL'ar tliu 
iilled; it 



iigh you 
believe, 
or[>hose(l 
kcry Hiid 
in your 



ypsy, tho 
ur bittor- 



" he re- 
er is not 

wliich she 

initely ten- 

■houpjh if I 
it was not 



l^allows. 



)) 



r repeated. 
1 you shall 
[ not nurnc 
for what? 
1 lied— that 
's death on 

ching some 
; that?" 
exultingly. 
ch a thing 
o! mamma 
kt, notwith- 



standing your dying father's command. But in spite of 
her it has come true — thanks to your protegee, Sybilla 
Silver." 

" What was the astrologer's prediction — that terrible 
prediction that shortened my father's life?" 

" It was this — that his only son and heir, born on that 
night, would die by the hand of the common hangman, a 
murderer's death on the scaffold. Enough to blight any 
father's life who believed in it, was it not?" 

" It was devilish. My poor father! Tell mo the name 
of the fiend incarnate who could do so diabolical a deed, 
for you know?" 

" I do. That man was my father/' 

*' Your father?" 

" Ay, Aohmet the Astrologer. Ila! ha! As much an 
astrologer as you or I. It was his part of our vengeance — 
my part was to see it carried out. I swore, by my dying 
mother's bedside, to devote my life to that purpose. Have 
I no* kept my oath?" 

She folded her arms and looked at him with a face of 
such devilish malignity that words are poor and weak to 
describe it. He recoiled from her as from a visible demon. 

" For God's sake, go! You bring a breath of hell into 
this prison. Go — go! You have done your master's work. 
Leave me!" 

" Not yet; you have heard but half the truth. Oh, po- 
tent Prince of Kingsland, hear me out! You will be 
hanged to-morrow morning for murdering your wife! You 
didn't mu/der her, did you? Who do you suppose did it?" 

He rose to his feet, staggered back iigainst the wall, his 
eyes starting from their sockets. 

"Great God!" 

He could say no more, Tiie awful truth burst upon 
him and struck him speochless. 

'* Ah, you anticipate, I see. Yes, my lord of Kings- 
land, 1 muidered your pretty little wife! Keep off! I 
have a pistol here, a;id I'll blow your brains out if you 
come one step nearer — if you utter a word! I don't want 
to cheat Jack Ketch, if I can. And it is no use your cry- 
ing for holij— tluire is no one to hear, and these stone walls 
are thick. Stand tlKsre,, my rich, my noble, my princely 
brother, and listen to the iruth. ' 



S30 



THE EARONET'S BRIDE. 



H'. li. 



He stood, holding by the wall, paralyzed, frozen with 
horror, lie knew all, as surely as if he had seen the hor- 
rid tragedy. 

" Yes, I murdered her I" Sybilla reiterated, with sneer- 
ing triumph. " Disf^uised in 3'our clothes, using your 
dagger; and she died, bolieving it to be you. All 1 told, 
and all ilie boy Dawson told at th* trial was true as the 
Heaven you believe in. Your wife was true as truth, 
pure as the angels. She loved only you — she loved you 
with her whole heart and soul. Her vow by the l>edside 
of her dying father chained her tongue. To save yoa the 
shame, the humiliation of learning the truth about her de- 
graded mother, she m^t in secret this Mr. Parmalee. On 
that night she went to the stone terrace to see her mother, 
for the lirst, the last, the only time. I arranged it all — I 
lured her there — I stabbed her, and flung her over into the 
sea! I hated her for your sake — 1 hated her for her own. 
And to-morrow, for my crime, you will die!'* 

And still he gazed, paralyzed, stunned, motionless, 
speechless. Before him the woman stood, drawn np to 
her full height, looking at him with blazing eyes, a fitting- 
mate for the prince of devils himself. 

" Poor fool!'* she said, with unutterable scorn — *' poor, 
blind, besotted fool! and this is the end of all! "Youpg, 
handsome, rich, high-born, surrounded by friends, the 
wealthy and the great, one woman's work brings yon to 
this! I have said my say, and now I leave you; here we 
part. Sir Everard Kingsland. Call the jailer; tell him 
what I have told you — tell it through the length and 
breadth of the land, if you choose. Not one will believe you. 
It is an utterly mad and impossible tale. I have only to 
calmly and scornf ull;/ deny it. And to-morrow, when the 
glorious sun rises — tlie sun you will never see — I will be far 
away. In Spain, the land of my mother and my grand- 
mother, I go to join our race — to become a dweller in tents 
—a gypsy, free as the wind that blows. The gold your 
lavish hand has given me will make me and my tribe rich 
for life. I go to be their queen. Farewell, Sir Everard 
Kingsland. My half hour has expired; the jailer comes 
to let me out. Bul first I go straight from here to 
Kingsland Court, to tell your mother what I have just 
told you — to tell her her idolized son dies for my crime, 
and to kill her, if I can, with the nows. Once more, fare- 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



331 



well, and bon voyage to you, my haughty young baronet, 
the last of an accursed race!*' 

Tho door swung open — Miss Silver flitted out. It broke 
the si)ell. The prisoner started forward, tried hoarsely, 
vainly to speak. Enfeebled by lojig illness, by repeated 
shocks, he staggered a pace or two and fell face forward 
at the jailer's feet like: a log. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH. 

And while Sir Everard Kiugsland lay in his felon's qqH, 
doomed to die, where was she for whose murder he was to 
give his life? Really murdered? Is there any one above 
the artless and unsuspecting age of six, who reads this 
story, does not know beffer? 

Harriet — Lady Kingsland — was not dead. Hundreds of 
miles of sea and land rolled between her and Kingsland 
Court, and in a stately New York mansion she looked out 
at the sparkling April sunshine, with life and health beat- 
ing strong in her breast. 

Mr. George Washington Parmalee had saved her life. 
On that tragic night of March tenth, he had c uitted the 
Blue Bell with Mrs. Denover, and descended at oice to the 
shore, where a boat from the "Angelina Dobbs " was 
awaiting them. 

The " Angelina " herself lay at anchor a mile or two 
away, ready to sail as soon as her two passengers came 
aboard. 

Mr. Parmalee took the oars and rowed away in the direc- 
tion of the park. The sickly glimmer of the moon showed 
him the stone terrace and the solitary figure standing wait- 
ing there. But the noise of the wash on the beach and the 
sighing of the trees prevented Harriet from hearing the dip 
of the sculls. On the sea the night was so dark that the 
boat glided along unseen. 

He had neared the spot and rowed softly along under the 
deep shadow of overhanging trees, whose long arms trailed 
in the waves, when he espied a second figure, muffted in a 
cloak, emerge and confront the lady. He recognized, or 
thought he recognized, the baronet, and came to a dead- 
lock, with a stilled impieeulion. 



h 



n 



232 



THE ];aronet's bkide. 



:ii :i- 



til 



" It's nil up with tlicm three liumlrccl pouiicls fchis 
bout/' he thought; " confound the hick!" 

lie could not hear the words — the distance was too groat 
— but he could see them plainly. The wild shriek of Lady 
Kingsland would have been echoed by her terrified mother 
had not the artist clapped his hand firmly over her mouths 

*' Darnation! Dry up, can't you? Oh, good God!" 

He started up in horror, nearly upsetting the boat. Ho 
had seen the fatal blow given, he saw the boily hurled over 
the railing, and he saw the face of the murderer! 

A flash of moonlight shone full upon it bending down, 
and he recognized, in men's clothes, the woman who was 
to be his wife. 

A deadly sickness came over him. He sat down in the 
boat, feeling as though he were going to faint. As for 
Mrs. Denover, she was numb with utter horror. 

The assassin fled. As she vanished G. W. Parmalee 
looked up with a hollow groan, remained irresolute for an 
instant, shook himself, and took up the oars. 

" We must pick uj) the body," he said, in an unearthly 
voice. '* The waves will wash it away in five minutes." 

He rowed ashore, lifted the lifeless form, carried it into 
".he boat, and laid it across the mother's knee. 

" We'll put for the * Angelina,' " he observed. " If 
there's any life left, we'll fetch her to there." 

" Her heart beats," said Mrs. Henover, raining tears and 
kisses on the cold face. " Oh, my child, my child! it is 
your wretched mother who has done this!" 

They reached the " Angelina Dobbs," where they were 
im])atiently waited for, and captain and crew stared aghast 
at sight of the supposed corpse. 

*' Do you take the ' Angelina Dobbs ' for a cemeteryj 
Mr. Parmalee?" demanded Captain Dobbs, with asperity. 
*' Who's that air corpse?" 

" Come into the cabin and I'll tell you," responded Mr. 
Parmalee, leading the way and bearing his burden. 

The captain lingered a moment to issue his orders, and 
followed the photographic artist to the tiny cabin. 

There he heard, in wonder and j^ity and dismay, the 
story of the stabbed lady. 

'* Poor creeter! Pretty as a picter, too! Who did the 
deed?" 



THE T^ARONET's bride. 



233 



ihis 

cat 
ady 
lier 
ith. 



mn, 
was 



" It looked like her liiisbaiul/' replied Mr. Parmaloe. 
'* Ho was as jealous as a Turk, anyway." 

*■ Hhe is not dead!" exckvimod Mrs. Denover; "her 
jioart flutters. Oh! pray leave me alone with her; 1 think 
1 know what to do.'* 

The men quitted the cabin. Mrs. Denover removed her 
daughter's clothing and examined the wound. It was 
deep and dangerous looking, but not necessarily fatal — she 
knew that, and she had had considerable experience dur- 
ing her rough life with John Thorndyke. She stanched 
the How of blood, bathed and dressed the wound, and finally 
th(! dark eyes opened and looked vaguely in her face. 

" Who are you? Whv.iO am 1?" very feebly. 

Tiie woman trembled from head to foot and sunk down 
on her knees by the bedside. 

" I am your nurse,'' she said, tremulously, *' and you 
are with friends who Jove you.'* 

The deep, dark eyes still gazed at her — memory was 
slowly coming back. 

" Ah! I remember." A look of intense anguish crossed 
her face. " You are my mother!" 

" Your most wretched mother! Oh, my darling, I am 
not worthy to look in your face!" 

*' You are all that is left to me now — ah. Heaven pity 
me! — since he thinks me guilty. 1 remember all. He 
tried to murder me; he called me a name 1 will never for- 
get. Mother, how came 1 here? Is this a ship?" 

Very gently, softly, soothingly the mother told how Mr. 
Parmalee had saved her life. 

" And where are we going now?" 

" To Southampton, 1 think. But we will return if you 
wish it." 

'* To the man who tried to take my life? Ah, no, 
mother! Never again in this world to him! Call Mr. 
Parmalee. " 

"My dear, you must not talk so much; you are not 
able. " 

"Call Mr. Parmalee." 

Mrs. Denover obeyed. 

The artist presented himself promptly, quite overjoyed. 

" Why, now," said Mr. Parmalee, " I'd rather see this 
than have a thousand dollars down. Why, you look as 
spry almost as ever. How do you feel?" 



834 



THE BARONET'S BRIDE. 



Sho reached out her hand to him with a M'nn smile. 

" You have been very good to me and my mother. Be 
good until the end. If 1 die, bury me where he will never 
hear oE my death nor look upon myjifrave. If I live, take 
me back to Now York— I have friends there — and don't 
let him know whether I am living or dead.*' 

Mr. Parmalco squeezed her slender hand. 

" I'll do it! It's a go! I owe him one for that kick- 
ing, and, by Jove! here's a chance to pay him. Jest you 
keep up heart and get well, and we'll take you to New 
York in the * Angelina Dobbs,' and nobody bo the wiser." 

Mr. Parmaloe kept his word. They lay aboard the ves- 
sel while loading at Southampton, and a surgeon was in 
daily attendance upon the sick girl. 

" You fetch her round," said Mr. Parmalee. " She's 
the skipper's only daughter — this 'ere craft, the ' Angelina 
Dobbs,' is named after her — and he'll foot the bill like a 
lud. There ain't a lord in all this little island of yours, 
ior that matter, equal to the Dobbs, of Dobbsville." 

The surgeon did his best, and was liberally i)aid out of 
the three hundred pounds which Mrs. Denover liad found 
in the bosom of Harriet's dress. But for days and weeks 
she lay very ill — ill unto death — delirious, senseless. Then 
the fever yielded, and death-like weakness ensued. 

This, too, passed; and by the time the "Angelina'' 
reached New York, the poor girl was able, wan and 
feeble, to saunter up and down the deck, and drink in the 
life-giving sea air. 

Thus, while fruitless search was boing made for G. "W. 
Parmalee throughout London — while detectives examined 
every passenger who sailed in the emigrant ships — he was 
safely skimming the Atlantic in Captain Dobbs's cockle- 
shell. 

To do him justice, he never thought — and no more did 
Harriet — of what might follow ber disappearance. The 
baronet would leave the country, they both imagined, and 
her fate ^ould remain forever a mystery. 

So oiie supposed dead bride reached New York in safety, 
and that body washed ashore and identified by Sybilla Sil- 
ver, to suit her own ends, was some nameless unforfcanate. 

On the pier in New York Mr. Parmalee and Lady 
Kingsland parted. 

** I am going to my uncle's house," she mi', ** my 



THE BATIONET S PRIDE. 



285 



Be 

lever 
take 



kick- 

yoii 

New 



my 



mottier's brother. Hugh Denovflr is a rich merchant, 
and will receive us, I know. Keep my story secret, and 
come and see me next time yon visit New York, llvre is 
my uncle's address; give me yours, and if ever it is in my 
power, I will not forget how nobly you have acted aid 
how inadequately you have been repaid. *' 
They shook hands and parted. 

Mr. Parmalce went " down East," not at all satisfied 
with his little English speculation. He had lost a hand- 
some reward and a handsomer wife. He dared hardly 
Ijhink to himself that Sybilla had done the horrid deed, 
and he had never breathed a word of his suspicion to Har- 
riet. 

'* Let her think it's the baronet, if she's a mind to," he 
said to himself. *' I ain't a-going to do him a good tu«i. 
Bnt I know better." 

Harriet and her mother sought out Mr. Denover. Me 
lived in a stately up-town mansion, with his wife and one 
SOB, and received both poor waifs with open arms. TEs 
lost sister had been his boyhood's pet; he had nothing for 
feea* now but pity and forgiveness, when she looked at him 
witJi death in her face. 

"My poor Maria, ^' he said, with tears in his eyes, 
" don't talk of the wretched past. I love my only sister 
ia spite of all, and neither she nor her child shall want a 
home while 1 have one." 

Harriet told her story very brieily. Her father had bewi 
dead for two years. She had married; she had not li\'ed 
happily with her husband, and they had parted. She had 
come to Uncle Hugh; she knew he would give his sister's 
daughter a home. 

She told her story with dry eyes and unfaltering voice; 
but Mr. Denover, looking in that pale, rigid young faoe, 
• read more of her despair than she dreamed. 

" Her husband has been some English grandee, like 
Captain Hunsden, I dare say," ho thought, " proud as 
Lucifer, and when he discovered that about her raothi'^r, 
despised and ill-treated her. No common trouble would 
make any human face look as hers does, poor child!" 

The penitent wife of Captain Hunsderi did not long sur- 
vive to enjoy her new home. Two weeks after their arriral 
she lay upon her death-bed. Nothiup- could save her. Siio 



236 



THE baronet's BRIT)E. 



ii 



Jiail been doomctl t. months— life gave way when the ex- 
cifcoment that had buoyed her up was gone. 

l^y night and day Ilarriet watched by her bedside, and 
the repentant Magdalen's last hours were the most blessed 
she had ever known. 

" I do not deserve to die like this/' she often said. 
'* Oh, my darling, your love makes my death-bed very 
sweet!" 

They laid her in Greenwood, and once more Harriet's 
desolation seemed renewed. 

*' I am doomed to lose all I love," she thought, despair- 
ingly — " father, husband, mother — all!" 

Hiie drooped day by day, despite the tenderest care. No 
smile over lighted her pale face, no happy light over Kihono 
from tlie mournful dark eyes. 

" Jler heart is broken," said Uncle Hugh; *' she will 
die by inches before our very eyes!" 

And Undo Hugh's prediction might have been ftdfllled 
had not a new excitement arisen to stimulate her to re- 
newed life and send her back to England. 



CHAPTER XXXIY. 

MR. PARMALEE TURNS UP TRUMPS. 

Mr. G. W. Parmalee went down to Dobbsville, Maine, 
and reposed again in the bosom of his family, lie went 
to work on the paternal acres for awhile, gave that up in 
disgust, set up once more a picture-gallery, and took the 
portraits of the ladies and gentlemen of Dobbsville at fifty 
cents a head. 

But Mr. Parmalee found life very slow. He was en- 
nuyed nearly to death, and neither man nor woman de- 
lighted him. Ha looked upon the bouncing damsels, 
bursting out of their hooks and eyes, with cheeks like the 
reddest side of a scarlet apple and eyes like azure moons, 
and compared them, in scornful bitterness of spirit, with 
Miss Sybilla Silver, the fair, the false. 

Mr. Parmalee was fast becoming a misanthrope. His 
speculation hatl failed, his love was lost; nothing lay before 
him but a long and dreary existence spent in immortalizing 
in tin-types the belles and beaus of Dobbsville. 

Sometimes a lit of penitence overtook him when his 



|e ex- 

and 

lessed 

'said, 
very 



TllH IJAKONI.T s i;i;il)K. 



23; 



thouglits rovoried to tho desolate you.in" ercatiire, worse 
than widowed, dray<;iiig out Jifo in !Nuw "^'ork. 

" I'd ought to tell her," Mr. Tarmalee tiiought. " It 
ain't right to let her keep on thinking that her husband 
murdered her. But then it goes awfully against a foller'a 
grain to poach on the girl he meant to murry. Still — '' 

Tho remorseful reflection haunted him, do what he 
would, lie took to dreaming of the young baronet, too. 
Night after night, pale and reproachful, he stood beforo 
him in his sleep, haunting him like an uneasy j^liost. 
Once ho saw him in his shroud, lying deail on the stono 
terrace, and at sight of him the corpse had risen up, 
ghastly in its grave clothes, and, pointing one quivering 
linger at him, said, in an awful voice: 

" CJ. W. Parmalee, it is you who have done this!" 

And Mr. Parmalee had started uj) in bed, the cold sweat 
standing on his brow like a shower of pease. 

"I won't stand this, by thunder!" thought the artist 
next morning, in a lit of desperation. " I'll write up to 
New York this very day and tell her all, so help me Bob!" 

But " riunmnc propose '* — you know tho proverb. Squire 
Brown, who lived half a mile oir, and had never heard of 
Harriet in his life, elTectually altered Mr. Parmalee's 
jdans. 

The worthy squire. Jogging along in his cart from 
market, came upon tho artist, sitting on the top rail of 
the gate, whittling, and locking gloomily dejected. 

"Hi! (leorge, my buy!" varied out the lusty squire, 
" what's gone v/ron?-? You look as dismal as a grave- 
yard!" 

" W-a-a-1!" drawled the artist, who wasn't going to tell 
his troubles on the house-tops, " there ain't nothin' much 
to speak of. It's the all-fired dullness of this pesky, one- 
horse village, where there ain't nothin' stirrin', 'cept Hies 
in fly-time, from one year's end to t'other." 

" See what comes of traveling," said Squire Brown. 
' ' If you had stayed at home, instead of flying round Eng- 
land, you'd have been as right as a trivet. My 'pinion is, 
you've boon and left a gal behind. Here's a London pa- 
per tor you. My missus gets 'em every mjiil. l*erhai)S 
you'll see your gal's name in the list of marriages." 

Mr. Parmalee took the pauer chucked at him with lan- 
guid indifference. 



m 



u 



23S 



TUB BAKONBT'S bride. 



" Any news?" ho asked. 

" Lots — just suitod to your complaint. A coal mine in 
Cornwairs been and caved in and buried alive tifteeu 
workmen; there's been a horrid riot in Leeds; and a baf- 
oiiot in Devonshire is sentenced to bo hung for murdering 
hia wife." 

Mr. Paimaloe gave one yell — one horrid yell, like a 
Comanche war-whoo^) — and leaped off the fence. 

" What did you say?*' he roaretl. " A baronet in 
Devonsliire for murdering his wife?** 

" Thunder!*' ejaculated Squire Brown. *' You didn't 
know him, did you? Maybe you took his picture when ia 
England? Yes, a baronet, and hia name it's Sir Everard 
Kingsland." 

\V ith an unearthly groan, Mr. Parmalee tore open ike 
paper. 

*' They haven't hanged him yet, have they?" he gaspe^^ 
ghtistly white. " Oh, good Lord above! what have 1 
done?" 

Sqmre Brown sat and stared, a spectacle of densest be- 
wilderment. 

" You didn't do the murder, 1 hope?" he asked. 

But Mr. Parmalee was immersed fathoms deep in tke 
paper, and would not have heard a thunder-bolt crashing 
beside him. 

The squire rode away, and Mr. Parmalee sat for a good 
kour, half stupefied over the account. The paper con- 
teined a resume of the trial, from first to last — dwelling 
particularly on Miss Silver's evidence, and ending with the 
sentence of the court. 

The paper dropped from the artist's paralyzed hand. 
He covered his face and sat in a trance of horror and re- 
morse. His mother came to call him to dinner, and as be 
Jookod up in answer to her call, she started back with a 
scream at sight of his unearthly face. 

'* Lor' a-massy, George Washington! what ever kas 
«omo to you?" 

Mr. Parmalee got up and strode fiercely past her into 
the house. 

" Pack up my clean socks and shirts, mother," he said. 
*' I'm going back to England by the first steamer." 

Late next evening Mr. Parmalee reached New Yoikc 



THE BAKONET's bride. 



889 



no in 

ifteeu 

bar- 

eriog 



Kiriy the followiiig morning ho strode up to tho brown- 
stone mansion of Mr. iJanovor uiul sharply rang tho bell. 

" la Lftcly — 1 mean, is Mr. Denovor's niece to homo!"* 

The servant stared, bat utihored him into the drawiug- 
Mom. 

♦'Who shall I say?" 

Mr. Parmalee handed her hia card. 

•' flive her that. TeU her it's a matter of life and 
death.-' 

The servant stared harder than over, but took the paste- 
board and vanished. Ten minutes after, and Harriot, in a 
white morning robe, paJe and terriiied, hurried in. 

" Mr. Parmalee, has anything— have you heard — Ofa, 
wJaat is it?" 

'* It is this. Lady Kingsland: your husband has beea 
arrested and tried for your murderl" 

She clasped her hands together and sunk into a seat, 
{^e did not cry out or exclaim. She sat aghast 

•' He has been tried and condemned, and — ** 

He could not finiak the sentence, out of pity for tkat 
death -like face. 

But she understood him, and a scream rang through tko 
house which those who heard it might never forget. 

" Oh, my God I he is condemned to be hanged!" 

** He is," said Mr. Parmalee; "but we'll stop 'em. 
If ow, don't you go and excite yourself, my lady, because 
yoa'U need all your strength a.ud presence of mind in this 
kere emergency. There's a steamer for Liverpool to-mor- 
row. I secured our passage before I ever came here." 

She pressed her hands oonvulaively over her throbbing 
heart. 

" May the great God grant we be in time! Oh, my 
love! my darling! my husband! 1 never thought of this. 
Let me but save you, and I am ready to die!" 

*' Only hear her!" cried the electrified artist, who didn't 
iKiderstand this feminine sort of ethics; *' talking like that 
s>boui the man she thinks stabbed her. 1 do believe she 
loves him yet" 

She lifted her face and looked at him. 

** With my whole heart I would die this instant to 
save him. I love him as dearly as when I stood beside 
lakm. at the altar a blessed bride. And he — ah^ bo\T dearly 



:840 



TTTK r.AUONKTS HUTDE. 



ho lovod mo oiico. It i'h something oven to romomltor 
that." 

" Well, I'll bo aarneil/' burst out Mr. IWiuiilco, " if 
this <lon't bojit all (jreatioii! You winimin uro tlio most 
curious orittors that cvor wore invcnited. Now, th(4i, what 
would you give to know it was not >Sir Evururd whostabbtul 
you tliat night?" 

Sho lookod at him with wild, wide eyes. 

" Not Sir Evcrard? lUit I saw liini; T hoard him 
S])(<ak. lie did it in a moment of nuidiie.^H, Mr. Parnudno, 
and Heaven only knows what anguish aad remorse he has 
fiuffered since." 

" 1 hojio so," said Mr. Parnudee. " T hojio lie's gone 
through piles of agony, for I don't like a bone in his body, 
if it comes to that. But, I repeat, it was not your li its- 
band who stabbed you on the stone terrace tiiat dismal 
night. It was " — Mr. Parnudee gulped — " it was {Sybilla 
Silver!" 

" What?" 

*' Yes, ma'am — sounds incredible, but it's a fact. She 
rigged out in a suit of Sir Everard's clothes, mimicked his 
voice, and did the deed. 1 saw her face when she jiitihed 
you over the rail as plain as I see your'n this nunute, and 
I'm ready to swear to it through all the courts in Christen- 
dom. She hated you like pisen, and the l)aronet, too, and 
she thinks she's put an end to you both; but if wo don't 
give her an eye-opener pretty soon, my name ain't I'arnui- 
lee." 

She sunk on her knees and held up her clasped hands. 

" Thank God! thank God! thank (!od!" 

And then, woman-like, the sudden ecstasy was too 
much, and the hysterics came on. She laughed, and 
kissed Mr. Parmalee^s hand, and dropjjcd it, and broke out 
into a perfect passion of tempestuous sobs; and Mr. 
Parmalee, scared pretty nearly out of his wits, rang the 
bell and quitted the house precipitately, leaving word that 
he would call again in the evening and arrange matters, 
when '* Mr. Denover's niece had come to." 

Next day they sailed for England. The passage was all 
that could be desired, even by the mad ini))atience of Har- 
riet. People stared at tlie pale, beautiful girl with liie 
high-bred face and the wild, strained eyes who seemed to 
know no one save the tall Yankee gentleman, who ad 



TUV. HAUONKT A i;icii»i:. 



^'41 



% "if 

most; 

, wlml. 

,ubbc!(l 



hint 
niiihu;, 
ho hiis 



lirossol licr hh " my liuly. " It was very cmM, and thoy 
aakcd Mr. I'ariiialoo (juestions, and Mr. Tarjualuo v\i»[ 
ilujiu asUaiux!, and informed them ahv was a youn;^ (lM<;h- 
ctiS travoliniif inrof/. under his i)rotu(;tion; had tlojic tlio 
criiat United Status, and was ^oin^ to bring it out in a 
booli. Hut Harriot liorsolf addressed no on o. Heart and 
soul were absorbed in the ono thouglit — the one liopo — to 
roach Knghmd in time. 

Tliuy arrived in Liverpool. Mr. Parnudee and liis eom- 
puTUon ])0Htcd full speed down to JJuvonshire. I»i the 
luminous dusk of the soft May evening they reached Wor- 
rell, Harriet's thiol veil hiding her from every eye. 

" We'll go to iMr. lUyson's lirst," said Parmaloe, Hry- 
son being Hn* Evorard's lawyer. " We're in the very niok 
of time; to-morrow morning at day-dawn is lixod for — " 

" Oh, hush!" in a voioe of agony; " not that I'oarfid 
word! Oh, Mr. I'armalee, if we should bo too late, after 
all!" 

""Wo can't," said the artist; "they ain't a-going to 
hang liim for tho murder of awonuin theysoo alive. VVe'll 
sto]) 'em, if tho ropo is round his neuk. You keep u\) a 
good heart — you're all right, at last." 

They reached tho house of Mr. ]>ryson. Ho sat over hi.s 
eight-o'clock cup of tea, with a very gloomy face. The 
tragedy to tako place in tho gray and dismal dawn to-moi- 
row had cast an awful shadow over tho whole place, lie 
had known Sir Everard all his life — ho had known his 
beautiful bride, so passionately beloved. He had bidden 
tho doomed young baronet a last farewell that afternoon. 

" He never did it," said he to himself. " There is a 
horrible mystery somewhere. Ho never did it — I could 
stake my life on his innocence — and he is to die to-mor>. 
row, poor fellow! That missing man, Parmalee, did it, 
and that lierce young woman with the big black eyes and 
deceitful tongue was his aider and abettor. If I could 
only find that man!" 

A servant entered with a card, " G. W. Parmalee." 
The lawyer rose with a cry. 

" Good Heaven above! It can't be! It's too good to 
bo true! He never would rush into the lion's den in this 
way. John Thomas, who gave you this?" 

" "Which the gentleman is in the droring-room, sir," re- 
sponded John Thomas, " as likewise the lady." 



I 

ii 



h 



243 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



Mr. JRryson rushed for the drawing-room^ flung wi'ie 
the door, aud confronted Mr. Parmalee. The sight struck 
him specculess. 

" Good-evening, squire/* said the Amorican. 

'• You here I" gasi>ed the lawyer — " the man for whom 
we have been scouring the kingdom!" 

" You'd oughtur scoured the Atlantic," replied the 
artist, with infinite calm. "l'\8 been home to see my 
folks. I suppose you wanted me to throw a little light on 
that 'ere horrid murdc r? Ah, dreadful thing that was^ 
Pound the body yet?" 

'* } suspect you know mcc of that murder than any 
other man alive I" said the lawyer. 

" Do tell! Well, now, I ain't a-going to deny it — I do 
know all about it, squire." 

" What?" 

" Precisely! Don't holier out vso! What do you thiak 
s fellow 's narves are made of? Yes, sir, I saw the deed 
done.'' 

" You did? Good heavens!" 

** Don'c sv/ear, squire; it's an immoral practice. Yes, 
I saw tho stab given with that 'ere long knife; and it 
wasn't the baronet did it, either, though you're going to 
kang him for it to-morrow." 

*' In Heaven's name, man, speak out! Who did ifke 
€l«ed?" 

'* Sybilla Siker!" 

The lawyer clasped his hands with a wild gesture. 

** 1 knew it — 1 thought it — I mid it! The she-devJH 
Poor, poor Lady Kingsland!" 

"Ma'am," said the American, turning blandly to his 
veiled companion, " perhaps it will relievo Mr. Bryson's 
gushing bosom to behold your face. Jest lift that 'ere 
reil." 

The veiled female rose, flung back her veil, and co«- 
Ironted the lawyer. With an awful cry Mr. Bryson stag- 
gered back against the wall. 

" All- merciful Heaven I the dead alive! Lady KingS" 
land!" 



truck 



tnE LAUONET's UlilttE, 



im 



3e my 
lit on 
was! 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

HIGHLY SENSATIONAL. 



Sybilla 



SiLVEfi went stmight from the prison cell oi 
Su- Everard to the sick-room of hia mother. It was almost 
elovon whon slie roachecl the Court, but they watched tlie 
iiight throusjh in that house of mourning. 

Leaving the lly before the front entrance, Sybilla stole 
round, in tbe placid May moonlight, to that side door she 
luul used tho memorable night of March tenth. She had a 
latch-key to lit it, and it was never bolted, as she knew. 
She admitted herself without diiiicnlty, and prooeedei 
at once to Lady Kingsland's sick-room. 

IShe tapped lightly at the door. It was opened instantly, 
and the pale face of Mild red looked out. At sight of h»r 
visitor she recoiled with a look of undisguised horror. 

'* You here! How dare you, you cruel, wicked, mwoi- 
less woman!" she indignantly cried. 

*' Hard words, Miss Kingsland. Let me in, if you pleaae 
— 1 wish to see your mother." 

" You shall not come in I I will rouse the house! The 
sight of you will kill her! I will die before 1 let you cross 
tkts threshold! Was it not enough to swear p.way tho life 
•f her only son? Do you want to blast hor dying hours 
mth the sight of your base, treacherous face?" 

She broke out into a passionate paroxysm of weeping. 

With a look of scornful contempt, Sybilia took her by 
tke shoulder and drew her out of the room. 

*' Don't be ar idiot, Mildred Kingsland! 1 gave my evi- 
dence — how could 1 help it? It wasn't my fault that yo»r 
brother murdered his wife. Hold your tongue and listea 
to me. I must see your mother for ten minutes. 1 have 
been to the prison. I bring a last message from her son. " 

Mildred looked up in consternation. 

"You have been to prison!" she cried. ** You dare 
look my brother in the face!" 

*' Just as easily as 1 clo kis sister. Luckily, he has more 
sense than she has, and bears me no grudge for what !'. 
ee«Id not help. Am I to soo Lady Kingsland, or shall '. 
go as I came, with Sir Everard 's mesBage undelivered?" 

^' Tbe sight of you will kill her*" 



M 



tf 



t 



1! 









m: 



THE 3AliONEX S LKIDE. 



"Wc must risk that." 

She passed into tho room as she spoke, with a parting 
word for Mildred. 

" Wait here/' she said. *' I must see her quite alone, 
dut it will only be for a few minutes." 

She closed the door and stood alone the sick lady's room. 
The night-lamp burned dim; she turned it u]) and a}»- 
2)roached the bed. 

" Is it you, Mildred?" a weak voice asked. " The light 



is too strong." 

" It is not Mildred, my lady. 
*'Sybilla Silver!" 



It is I." 



No words can describe the look of agony, of terror, of 
repulsion, that crossed my lady's face. She held up both 
hands with a gesture of loathing and horror. 

*' Keep off!" she cried. " You murderess!" 

Involuntarily the fiendish woman quailed at that word. 
But only for an instant. 

*' Yes," she cried, her black eyes flaming up, ** that is 
the word — murderess! — for I murdered your daughter-in- 
law. You never liked her, you know. Lady Kiiigsland. 
Surely, then, when I stabbed her and throw her into the 
sea, I did you a good turn. Don't cry out, please; there 
is no one to hear but Mildred, and she was always a j)oor, 
weak fool. Lie still, and listen to me. 1 have a long story 
to tell you, beginning with the astrologer's prediction." 

These last two words, as Sybilla well knew, riveted the 
attention of the sick woman at once. 

With fiendish composure Sybilla repeated the story 
she had told Sir Everard, while Lady Kingsland lay para- 
lyzed and listened. 

The atrocious revelation ended, sh: looked at her pros- 
trate foe with a diabolical smile. 

*' My oath is kept; the prediction is fulfilled. In a few 
hours the last of the Kingslands dies by the hand of tho 
common hangman. I have told you all, and I dare you to 
injure one hair of my head. Within the hour my journey 
from England commences. Search for last year's snow, 
for last September's partridges, and when you find them 
you may hope to find Sybilla Silver. Burn the prediclion, 
destroy my grandmother's portrait and lock of hair, so 
carefully hidden away for many years. Their work i» 



' 1 



THE baronet's BRIDE. 



245 



mil. 
aj.- 



ight 



done, and my vengeance is complete. Lady Kingsland, 
farewell!" 

'* Murderess!" spoke a deep and awful voice — " mur- 
deress! murderess!** 

*^Ah.h-h-h-h!" 

With a shriek of wordless affright, Sybilla Silver leaped 
back, and stood cowering against the wall. For the dead 
had risen and stood before her. The phantom t lowly ail- 
vanced. 

" Murderess, confess your guilt!*' 

** Mercy, mercy! mercy!** shrieked Sybilla Silver. 
" Spare me! Touch me not! Oh, God! what is this?'* 

*' Confess!'* 

Hollow and terrible sounded that voice. 

•' 1 confess — I murdered you — 1 stabbed you! Sir Ever- 
ard is innocent! Keep off! Mercy! mercy!** 

With an unearthly scream, the horrified woman threw 
up both arms to keep off the awful vision, and fell for- 
ward in strong convulsions. 

" Very well done,** said Mr. Bryson, entering briskly. 
" 1 don*t think we need any further proof of this lady's 
guilt. You have played ghost to some purpose, my dear 
Lady Kingsland. Who says, now, my melodramatic idea 
was not a good one? She would have denied every word 
black, and tortures would not have wrung a confession out 
of her. Come in, gentlemen. We'll have no trouble car- 
rying off our prize. 1 hope she hasn't done too much mis- 
chief already." 

He paused, and stepped back with a blanched face, for 
Lady Kingsland lay writhing in the last agony. 

With a wild cry, Mildred threw herself on her knees by 
her mother's side. 

*' Mamma — dear mamma — don't look like that! Har- 
riet is not dead. She is here alive. It was that dreadful 
woman who tried to kill her. Everard is innocent, as we 
knew he was. He will be here with us in a day or two. " 

The dying woman was conscious. Her eyes turned and 
fixed on Harriet The white disguise had been thrown off. 
She came over to the bedside, pale and beautiful. 

** Mother,** she said, sweetly, ** it is indeed L Dear 
mother, bless me once. *' 

** May God bless you and forgive me! Tell Everani — '* 

She never finished tho sentence. The death-rattle 



246 



THE BABONET'S BRIDE. 



sounded, her kead fell baok, her eyes turned. With ih» 
name of the son she idolized upon her lips. Lady Kingsland 
was dead. 

The three men — Mr. Bryson, Mr. Parmalee, and the 
head constable of Worrel — stood looking at one another, 
awed and stunned by the suddenness of the shock. 

But Harriet's presence of mind did not forsake her. 
Reverently she kissed the dead face, closed the dead eyes, 
and rose. 

** The dead are free from suffering. Our first duty is to 
the living. Take me to my husband!" 

She held out her arms imploringly. The men assented 
iiaanimously. The constable lifted Sybilla unceremoni- 
OBsly. The servants gathered outside the door gave way, 
a/skd he placed her in the carriage which had conveyed them 
to the house. 

Mr. Parmalee went with him, and Lady Kingsland and 
the lawyer took possession of the fly that stood waiting f»f 
Miss Silver. 

A minute later and they were flying, swift as la^ and 
^e«t oould urge them, toward Worrel Jail. 



CHAPTER XXXVL 
"after storm, the sunshine." 

HiRLiER in the evening, when Harriet had told her 
s^ory to Mr. Bryson, that gentleman had proceeded at once 
to the prison to inform the prisoner and the officials thut 
ike murdered lady was alive. 

Full of his good news, he hastened rapidly forward, and 
was admitted at once to the condemned cell. 

There he found the warden of the prison and the clergy- 
man, listening with very perplexed faces to a story ilie 
prisoner was narrating. 

Sir Everard lay upon the bed, pallid and exhausted, but 
thoroughly calm and self-possessed. 

'* This IS a most extraordinary revelation," the clergy- 
man was saying, with a bewildered face. " I really doa't 
know what to think. " 

" What is it?" asked Mr. Bryson. 

*' A story which, wildly incredible as it seems, is yet true 
m Holy Writ," answered the prigoner. *' The real mur- 



THE BAIiONfiT^S BRIDE. 



247 



derer ie found. Sho has been hero, and admitted hor 
guilt." 

" What!" exclaimed the lawyer. " Sybilla Silver?" 

There was an exclamation from his listeners. 

" Why!" cried the warden, in wonder, " you, too?" 

*' Exactly," said Mr. Bryson, with a nod. " I know all 
about it. A most important witness has turned up — a® 
other than the missing man, Mr. Parmalee. lie saw the 
deed done — saw Sybilla Silver, dressed in Sir Everard's 
clothes, do it, and has come all the way from America to 
testify against her. Sir Ererard, my dear friend, from 
the bottom of my soul I congratulate yo« ou. your most 
blessed escape!" 

The tears were in hia eyes as he wrung the youmg man's 
hand; but Sir Evorard took it very quietly. He seemed to 
have passed beyond all earthly emotion. 

" Thank you!" be said. If my life is spared, it is for 
some good end, no doubt. Thank God! A felon's death 
would have been yery bitter, and for my mother's sake I 
rejoice." 

" Not for your own?" 

He shaded his face and tarned away. 

'"'' I have lost all that made life sweet. My wJfe is in 
heaven. For me earth holds nothing btit peuitence and 
remorse. " 

*' I am not so sure about that. I have better news for 
yo* even than the news 1 have told. My dear friend, caa 
yom bear a great shock — a shock of joy.'" 

He sprung up in bed, electrified. 

" Speak!" he gasped. " Oh, for God's SijJie— " 

" Your wife [& alive!" 

There was a simultaneous cry. The tJu'ee meu hardly 
dared look at the baronet. 

Mr. Bryson hurried on rapidly: 

" Sybilla Silver stabbed her, and threw her over upon tiie 
shore. Mr. Parmalee picked her up — not dead, but badly 
wounded — took her on board a vessel — took her ilnally to 
America. Sybilla Silver deceived your poor wife as she de- 
ceived us all. Lndy Kingsland thought it was you. Sir 
Everard. But she is alive and well, and in Worrel at tliis 
very moment. Sir Everard, my dear friend, bear this like 
a man! You have endured the highest earthly misfortune 
like a hero. Do uot mtik 2U)W under yuur new-found joy. 



248 



TIIK BARON KT's nKlDE. 



r iS 



God is good, you see, to thoso who trust in Iliin. Our 
lirst business is to cage our bird before she flics. Can you 
aid us any. Sir Everard? Where are we most hkeJy to 
find her?'' 

" At the Court," the baronet answered. " She left 
hero to go there — to kill my mother with her horrible news, 
if she could.*' 

He was scarcely able to reply. Ilia heart was full to 
bursting. His wife alive — in Worrel? Oh, it was too 
good to be true! 

*' We will leave you now," Mr. Bryson said, rising. 
*' Come, gentlemen; Sir Everard wants to be alone. J am 
off to secure my prisoner; and really I never did secure a 
prisoner before with half so much delight." 

It was on his way back to his own house that Mr. Bryson 
lighted on his ghostly plan for frightening Sybilla. How 
well it succeeded you know. 

She was still insensible when they reached the prison, 
and was handed over to the proper authorities. Harriet 
turned her imploring face toward the lawyer. 

*' Let me go to my hubsand! Oh, dear Mr. Bryson, let 
mo go at once!" 

They led her to the door. The jailer admitted her and 
closed it again. She was in her husband's prison cell. 
Beside the bed, in the dim lamp-light, he knelt — very, 
very worn, very, very pale. She gave a sob at the sight. 
Her arms were arouud his neck, her tears, her kisses rain- 
ing on his face. 

" Oh, my darling, my darling! my life, my love, my 
husband!" 

" Harriet!" 

With a great cry ho rose and hold her to his heart — held 
her as though never 0!i this earth to let her go again. 

" My wife, my wife!" 

And then, weak with long illness and repeated shocks — 
this last, greatest shock of all — he sat down, faint unto 
death. 

*' Oil, my love, my wife! to think that I should hold you 
once more in my arms, look onou more into your living 
face! My wife, my wife! How cruel, how merciless I have 
Deen to you! May God forgive me! 1 will forgive myself 
— never!" 



THK baronet's P.TtTDE. 



249 



my 



Her white liaiiu oovorcil liis lips — lier own sealed ihoin 
with passioinito kisses. 

*' jQot one word I Bt.'tvveon lis there can be no such thing 
as forgiveness. We could neither of us have acted other 
thr»n iis we did. My oatli bound me — your honor was at 
stake. We have both sufTered — Heaven only knows how 
dcei)ly. But it is 2^Hst now. Nothing in this lower world 
shall ever come between us again, my beloved!" 

" Not even death," he said, folding hex close to his 
heart. 



* 



* 



* 



One month after and Sir Everard Kingsland, his wife, 
and sister quitted England for the Continent, not to make 
the grand tour and return, but to reside for years. 
England was too full of painful memories; under the sun- 
lit skies of beautiful Italy they wer(^ going to forget. 

Sybilla Silver was dead. All her plans had failed — her 
oath of vengeance was broken. Sir Everard and his bride 
were triumphant. She had failed — miserably failed; she 
thought of it until she went mad — stark, staring mad. 
Her piercing shrieks rang through the stony prison all day 
and all night long, freezing the blood of the listeners, un- 
til one night, in a paroxysm of frenzy, she had dashed her 
head against the wall and bespattered the floor with her 
blood and brains. They found her, in the morning, stone 
dead. 



* 



Out into the lazy June sunshine the steamer glided, 
feaving the chalky cliffs of old England behind. With his 
handsome wife on his arm, the fair-haired young b*tronet 
stood looking his last at his native land, his face infinitely 
happy. 

*' For years,'' he said, with a smile — '* for life, perhaps, 
Harriet. I feel as if I never wished to return. " 

*' But we shall," she said. " England is home. A few 
happy years in fair foreign lands, and then, Everard, back 
to the old land. But first, 1 confess, I should like again 
to see America, and Uncle Denover, and " — with a little 
lai^h — " George Washington Parmaloe." 

For Mr. Parmalee had gone back to Dobbsville, a rich 
and happy man, at peace with all the world. Sir E\rerard 
Kingsland included. 

** You're a brick, baronet," his parting speech had bee!i. 



n I 



I; 



260 



THE BARONET'S RRTDE. 



as IiG wrung that young nuin's hand; "you ah*, 1 swiua! 
And your vvife*B another! Long may you wave!'* 

8ir Evorard laughed aloud now at the recollection. 

" Money can nevor npuy our obligation to that worthy 
artist. Mt*y his shadow never be less! We shall go over 
to Dc^bbRvilia and see him., and have our pictures taken, 
next year. Look, Harriett! how the chalky cliffs are 
melting into the blue above! One parting peep at Eng- 
land, and so a long good-bye to the old land!'* he said, 
taking off his hat, and standing, radiant and happy, with. 
Hm June sunlir^ht on his }iundE;cme head. 



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